RORY Stewart walked in the footsteps of Ed Miliband over the weekend, taking his out-and-about campaign to be our next Prime Minister onto Hampstead Heath.
During his time leading the Labour Party, Miliband had once constructed a wavy conference speech based on the everyday folk he had met during one of his strolls over these fields. Stewart, who will discover tomorrow whether he has convinced enough MPs to get through the next round of Conservative leadership voting, bumped into someone a little more recognisable in comedian David Baddiel.
The pair proved to be quite a double act, not least because they were chased away by a Heath official for contravening no filming rules. Baddiel then tried to tempt Rod Stewart – for that’s his real name – into being more critical of Boris Johnson but received knowing eyebrows and polite chatter in response.
Baddiel also warned him he looked a little like a drowned rat. Stewart took it well. You couldn’t imagine the same repartee unfolding with some of the other candidates.
My personal favourite moment, however, of a film being broadcast live to internet (which is why it’s a bit grainy and the sound is unreliable) was when a group of… what would we call them… not hippies, not hipsters…. I don’t know, but the kind of confident gang you might sketch if you were asked to draw young people from north London picnicking with coffee cups of wine on Hampstead Heath.
Stewart pottered over to them but then didn’t really know what to say to their whooping. And so despite his promise to get out and take any questions from any one, here was the swiftest of interactions. Smiles and gone.
As he turned to leave Parliament Hill, you could hear someone exclaim: I don’t know how I feel about this. Which I guess is how a lot of people feel about his quirky but surely doomed attempts to prevent Boris Johnson from reaching No. 10.