IS ED Miliband now the man who the Camden Labour Party think is now the acceptable face of their government for switched-on voters in the area? The environment minister’s not such a bad bet and so was called into launch the party’s manifesto for council elections on May 6 at the London Irish Centre on Friday night. His delivery was a measured battle cry.
Four years ago in the same room it was Alastair Campbell who did the honours. He was a livelier speaker than Miliband. I remember him rambling out anecdotes about his own experiences with the British Lions rugby team and confidently threw out funny line after funny line. I can’t recall the words but there was also a barb at the New Journal’s coverage that had the hall in hysterics.
Shame for those laughing was that Campbell’s appearance at the 2006 launch was later claimed to have done more harm than good for the council candidates. Campbell’s connection with Tony Blair and Iraq was apparently too much to stomach at a time when the war was a gaping electoral wound.
“I don’t know about that,” Ed Miliband nonetheless told me on Friday night. “I think Alastair Campbell is a great guy. I’m local and I was happy to do it. We have a dynamic team here.” (He had actually also stressed he was local in his speech from the stage, in fact he mentioned he went to Primrose Hill Primary School – the one near to his brother David’s home that isn’t so well used by the Miliband clan these days)
Miliband was generous with his time, as approachable as he was adept at sidestepping the awkward questions and pushing through the good news. He certainly wasn’t making enemies with the local press during a tour of the borough that seemed to last all day. Visiting Fitzjohns Primary School in the afternoon, he ran into a Ham & High reporter. The paper filed a quick web report which said: “The Dartmouth Park resident said he is a regular Ham&High reader and as a child he once featured in a photograph in the paper playing backgammon with his brother David in a competition.”
Fast forward a few hours and to the Irish Centre, it was my turn to shake his hand and the Camden New Journal’s turn for some flattery. After introducing myself, Ed said: “Ah, I was with your competitors earlier today I’m afraid. Obviously, obviously it’s the Camden New Journal I always read. I mean the Ham&High is still charging.”
I wondered if he had said anything as spiky about the New Journal to the Ham & High. Who knows? I guess if it had still been Campbell working this job he would have told both papers to our faces how we were getting it all wrong.