CHUKA Umunna, the shadow trade secretary of whom newspaper columnists say things like “I would, just sayin'”, tagged along with Labour leader Ed Miliband for a tour of Camden Town this morning. They were there to promise frozen business rates and energy bills.
As they passed Bar Vinyl in Inverness Street, Chuka, being the designated cool one who has the extra burden of showing us that politics can be young and hip and Obamary, asked Miliband and one of his aides: ‘Do you know who DJs out of there?’
When the inevitable non-plussed look came back from his leader, Chuka explained: ‘Paul Trouble Anderson, Paul Trouble Anderson DJs out of there’.
Of course, everybody will be aware of Anderson’s work, the house and garage DJ loved for two decades in dance music circles, amazing remixes for Azuli Records? Yeah? Sure you do. Chuka, obviously, can’t resist a relentless four-four beat.
Miliband joked with a deference to his music-loving colleague that made clear he had not the foggiest clue who Chuka was talking about: ‘Oh yes, I liked their early stuff but not after they fell out over artistic differences’.
He was in relaxed mood, maybe because he was on home turf, certainly comfortable enough to say without flinching that Labour still supported HS2 in one of the neighbourhoods that will be worst affected if the rail link gets built. The national interest comes first, he insisted with a certain amount of bullishness. He was just 100 yards from where the famous Camden Lock bridge will be dismantled when work gets going.
As he talked to a newsagent earlier in his NW1 tour of usefully fed-up traders, a builder just in the shop trying to sort out a letter suddenly raised his head and said: “Oooh, you’re the one who darked his brother up. I mean darked in a good way.” There is a good picture of this moment tweeted HERE. The same heckler then looked at Miliband’s press guy Tom Baldwin and said: You look legal, can you help me out with my paperwork. A guffaw erupted from Miliband as Baldwin gave a kindly glance across the builder’s letters.
In times gone by, Miliband – or any big name politician from any party, for that matter – would have been ushered away from a scene like that, slid away from the cameras to avoid embarrassment. Some of our most senior politicians are often still winched to safety in an over-the-top rush. Miliband, however, didn’t seem to bat an eyelid that the immediate association made with him, by a random passer-by, had been his joust with his own brother for the party leadership.
Instead, he turned the situation around by spending ten minutes with the guy, talking about the lack of security in the building trade, showing what seemed genuine concern. They ended up shaking hands, although not before his new pal had warned him not to expect a slew of votes from the encounter. “Nobody in our trade votes,” he explained. “They don’t see the point.”