Diary: Our caller has a question for Ed 'laughing stock' Miliband...

Tony Blair called it the "masochism" strategy when in the run up to the Iraq war he put himself around studios and newspaper offices, coming face to face with the anti-war lobby, hoping that he could at least soften their hostility.

For Ed Miliband, masochism takes the form of going on air and inviting questions and comments from the public, at any time, on any subject. Yesterday, he soldiered through a gruelling phone-in on BBC Radio 5 live. "You're not going to be Prime Minister by any stretch of the imagination," one caller predicted. Another called him a "laughing stock." And Dave, a Labour voter, sorrowfully informed him: "You fail to inspire. It's really bad what you're doing. You're not inspiring anybody. People need to be inspired by their leader. You have never done it, you're not doing it now and I can't ever see you doing it in the future. I don't mean to be cruel but it's so important."

In a less grim moment, Miliband was asked what advice, if any, he had received from Tony Blair, and said that the old leader had urged him to "be himself". Sadly, most of the rest of the country seems right now to want him to be anyone but himself.

Hilton barefoot's run for Mayor

Joe Murphy, Political Editor of the Evening Standard, set an interesting hare running yesterday by posting a blog on the internet on the number of times David Cameron's favourite adviser, Steve Hilton, has been seen around Boris Johnson's headquarters on the south bank of the Thames.

The rumour is that Hilton – famous for padding barefoot into meetings in Downing Street – has his eyes on being the next Conservative Mayor, after Boris has moved on, and was having discussions about whether he would work with the Mayor in the interim.

If so, nothing came of it. Hilton is off in the summer for a year's sabbatical in California, where his wife, Rachel Whetstone, is Google's global head of communications. The impossibility of getting anything done quickly in Whitehall is said to have got to him.

But is it right that he was sounding out the possibility of working with Boris? "He is round there a lot," a reliable source tells me. "They certainly get on very well."

Big Ben strikes it rich

Guided tours of the clock tower that houses Big Ben, are so popular that visitors are advised to book four months in advance. They cost £15 a head. I see from a note in Hansard that the cost to Parliament of laying on tours is expected to come to under £120,000 next year, when they are expecting between 9,400 and 10,400 paying visitors. According to my maths, they could make enough profit to cover the £32,000 a year it costs to rent the 12 fig trees that adorn the atrium of Portcullis House just across the road.

The local councillor living in... California

Lucky Neil Fitzgerald, a Southampton Conservative councillor, is still receiving his £650 a month council allowance although he has moved away to take up a new job, in Los Angeles.

The council leader, Royston Smith, argues that it is cheaper to keep paying him until his term of office runs out in May than to have a by-election. The leader of the Labour group on Southampton Council, Richard Williams, suggests they stop paying him, declare the seat vacant, and forget the by-election, because the vacancy will be filled in May anyway.

Cathy dreams of coming a cropper

Channel 4's Cathy Newman has given the Radio Times a glimpse of her schoolgirl dreams. "At school, I had my heart set on being Kate Adie," she said. "And then I watched BBC1's political thriller House of Cards. The heroine Mattie Storin is a young journalist reporting on a power struggle in the Conservative Party... That gave me the idea that Westminster was a place of intrigue, excitement, power..."

It is also a place where you can come a terrible cropper. Mattie Storin was pushed off the roof of Parliament to her death, but happily young Cathy was not put off by that.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Officer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen at th...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - London - £40,000 + Bonus

£36000 - £40000 per annum + Bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own