Diary: Miliband turns his charm on the right-wing media


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The Independent Online

Ed Miliband's campaign to charm political journalists continues. He threw a party at Labour's new headquarters on Thursday and worked the room meticulously, spending an especially long time with representatives of right-wing media. The liberal establishment, such as the BBC or Guardian, were curiously under-represented.

There is a website where you can sometimes read tirades against cosy fraternisation between lobby journalists and politicians, called Guido Fawkes. On this occasion, however, Guido, aka Paul Staines, and his henchman Harry Cole, could be seen enjoying themselves thirstily and chatting up Ed like he was their brand-new buddy. One Labour staffer at the far end of the room was heard to mutter "I don't know who asked them in; I'd take them out and shoot them" – but the Labour leader was all charm with them, as with the journos from the Mail, The Sun, The Telegraph and the rest.

When the general election draws close, Ed Miliband knows there will be truck-loads of abuse, ridicule and misrepresentation heaped on his head by media outlets intent on keeping David Cameron in office. Much of it will be written by that evening's guests. He cannot stop them doing it, but perhaps he can make some of them do it with a hint of regret.

Politicians are not some alien race

Benjamin Paul Ballance-Drew, the rapper and song writer otherwise known as Plan B, has a more positive outlook on the Coalition Government than Johnny Marr, of the 1980s band, The Smiths. Marr, you will recall, said he wanted David Cameron banned from saying he liked The Smiths. Asked by Shortlist magazine if he would object if Cameron were to say he liked the new Plan B album, Ben Drew replied: "No, I think it would be cool if he said that. You can't treat politicians like they're some alien race."

But, he added: "I wouldn't go straight back and say, 'I really like David Cameron too. Let's have tea and scones together' because that's never going to happen."

Coe remembers fun times as MP

Sebastian Coe, interviewed in House and Garden magazine, described how much fun he had during a late-night meeting over the use of Greenwich Park as an Olympic venue. "There were 30 people calling for me to be sacked; it reminded me of being an MP," he said.

One who is cool, caring and clever

The columnist Tabard, in the current edition of The Stage magazine, records a fun Freudian slip by Harriet Harman, as she was giving an introduction at a Labour event for the creative industries. "I am delighted to introduce you to someone we are working very, very closely with," she said, "who is looking forward to working very closely with all of you – and who shows it is possible to be both very clever and very caring but also very cool. It can only be one other politician. Er – one politician. Not one other politician. Chuka Umunna".

Public services with a smile

Though the Beatles proclaimed on their White album that "Georgia's always on my-my-my-my-my-my-mind," the rest of us, if we think of that beautiful country at all, picture it as a strife-torn little place in constant conflict with Russia, or as the birthplace of the ghastly Joseph Stalin and his vile police chief, Lavrenti Beria.

However, Richard Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford, who is back from Georgia, says it deserves worldwide renown for something positive: the ease with which people can access the country's public services. In Georgia, you simply walk into a public service hall anywhere, even in small towns high up in the mountains, and every public service is instantly to hand. "When we arrived, only 15 minutes later we were all presented with replica Georgian passports. This was just one example of their user-friendly approach," Lord Harries said.

Stalin's approach to public services was more along the lines that if you didn't like what you got, there was a place for you in the labour camps.