After two years and 1million in public money, Ed Miliband's policy blank sheet still has 'absolutely nothing' on it, Tories claim
Electoral Commission funding since May 2010 tops 1millionDavid Cameron says Labour has 'no answer' to tackling Britain's deficitTory party chairman Grant Shapps suggests Labour 'repay' the cash

Matt Chorley, Mailonline Political Editor


11:49 GMT, 11 December 2012



12:21 GMT, 11 December 2012

Labour has received more than a 1million in taxpayers’ money to fill in Ed Miliband’s policy ‘blank sheet’.

David Cameron launched a strongly-worded attack on his opponents, claiming that two and half years since losing the election Labour has ‘absolutely nothing’ to say about the big challenges facing the country.

And in a sign of the emerging battlelines for the 2015 election, Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps claimed public money was ‘disappearing into a black hole’ with voters unable to take Mr Miliband ‘seriously’.

Labour leader Ed Miliband insisted he wanted a blank sheet of paper which he would fill in with new policies

Labour leader Ed Miliband insisted he wanted a blank sheet of paper which he would fill in with new policies

Under little known rules, voting watchdog the Electoral Commission provides money for major political parties to come up with new ideas through its Policy Development Grant.

From the 2010 general election until March this year, Labour received 954,844.33, with more due to be paid for this year.

The money is in addition to the 5.2million the party receives from the House of Commons in ‘short money’ paid to opposition parties.

When he became leader Mr Miliband promised he would start with a ‘blank sheet of paper’ to throw off the baggage of the New Labour government.

But half way to the next election, and several policy review launches later, the party still has no firm policies.

Mr Cameron said that while he ‘always respects' his Labour opponents they were failing to rise the challenges Britain faces.

‘The central question in urgent British politics is how do you deal with the deficit What is Labour’s answer There is no answer.

‘The central problem in politics today is how do you improve public services, how do you make things better in a world where there isn’t any money.

Tory party chairman Grant Shapps said Labour should think about giving back the money after failing to come up with any new policies

Tory party chairman Grant Shapps said Labour should think about giving back the money after failing to come up with any new policies

‘What is Labour’s answer on education policy Health policy Anyone Nothing. Absolutely nothing,’ the Prime Minister told journalists in Parliament.

Mr Cameron noted that two and a half years after becoming Tory leader he had overseen ‘massive policy reviews that had drawn in people from right across the country’.

He had also done ‘important overseas stuff’ including landmark trips to India and to the Arctic to highlight environmental policy.

‘I’m not saying they don’t earn their short money and I am going to ask for it back, but I think it is an interesting reflection.’

In February last year ex-Labour deputy PM Lord Prescott raised concerns about Mr Miliband's infamous 'blank sheet' review.

'Throw away that bit of paper where you say “give me your thoughts and ideas”. Leaders are expected to have them. You have got to show your own grit,' he said.

Today Tory party chairman Grant Shapps released a dossier on how Labour were failing to do the heavy lifting expected of an opposition.

At this stage of the last parliament the Tories had policies on the creation of a UK Border Force, getting value for money in foreign aid, setting up a wellbeing index to measure the mood of the nation and cutting corporation tax to 25 per cent.

By this time in Tony Blair's leadership Labour had a whole raft of detailed policies, from a 'University of Industry' to minibus safety.

Mr Shapps told MailOnline: ‘Ed Miliband thinks he can take the British people for a ride. After blowing 1m of hard earned taxpayers’ cash, two and a half years later all he’s managed to come up with is a blank sheet of paper.

‘Perhaps it’s time for Labour to repay the cash or tell the British people how they’d cut the deficit in government.’

The policy development grant is a 2million fund which is split among all the political parties with two or more MPs.

The money is supposed to used to draw up policies for local, national and European elections.

The Labour party dismissed the new line of attack from the Conservatives, noting that the Tories have received money from the scheme in every year since 2001.

A Labour spokesman said: ‘Even from the Tories this is desperate and risible stuff. Clearly they're rattled by the One Nation agenda Ed Miliband has set out – whether it is the bank bonus tax, vocational education, plans to build 100,000 new homes, a youth jobs guarantee, cutting tuition fees, restorative policing, and a proper plan for jobs and growth it is Labour setting the agenda.

‘It is particularly absurd for the Tories to attack Labour when the Conservative Party has received the same amount from the Political Development Grant – which is overseen and independently audited by the electoral commission – every year since 2001.’