Diary: Rumours of Miliband plot prove exaggerated

 

David Miliband made massive waves with that article in the New Statesman that contained the memorable warning against the "seductive" idea that Labour can win an election by reverting to a 1980s mindset. "It is what I shall call Reassurance Labour," he wrote. "Reassurance about our purpose, our relevance, our position, even our morals. Reassurance Labour feels good. But feeling good is not the same as doing good.... Now is a time for restless rethinking, not reassurance."

His words received acres of interpretation. The Daily Telegraph, for example, affirmed that the article's timing was a deliberate warning to Ed Miliband not to throw away the support of the business community by pushing the campaign against the bonus culture too hard.

All of this, I hear, has left the older Miliband bemused. There was no great significance to the timing of the article and it really was, as it said, directed at Roy Hattersley, who had published an article weeks earlier in The Political Quarterly. The older Miliband decided that Hattersley required a serious answer, which he timed for the next issue of the publication.

Word of the piece reached Jason Cowley, editor of the New Statesman, who persuaded Miliband to let him run it. But, when the article arrived, it was written in such specialised language that it was unlikely to grab the attention even of the New Statesman's readership, and the magazine persuaded the author to add a few eye-catching phrases, such as that much-quoted passage about "reassurance".

The timing was an accident. No coded attack on the younger Miliband brother was intended. Out of such cock-ups are Westminster conspiracies born.

Sale by Twitter goes slowly but surely

Thousands have been affected by the collapse of the clothing chain, Peacocks, but none more so than the former singer, Pearl Lowe, who had been hired to design a collection. Yesterday she tweeted: "Is there anyone out there interested in buying 7,000 of my spring/summer collection?"

The first reply was an offer not to buy the whole lot, but one of each design. "OK, that's seven then," Ms Lowe replied. The other 6,993 will be soon gone, no doubt.

Lembit Opik deals mortal blow to pop

You never quite know what the former Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik is going to do next to get himself back in the public eye. While he was in Parliament, he left his wife, the weather presenter Sian Lloyd, for one of the Cheeky Girls. Since losing his seat, he has been a stand-up comedian, has appeared on I'm a Celebrity... and much else.

Now he features in a pop video. The 46-year-old is seen in a suit, against a London backdrop, lip-synching to "Pop Wound" by The Good Suns. It is actually not a bad track, and deserves something better than an ageing bloke gyrating his hips on a rooftop.

North-south divide widens to a chasm

Cheltenham is a genteel place renowned for its Ladies' College, racecourse and literary festival, so it is understandable locals feel they have standards to maintain. But Norman Hall, a councillor, went a bit too far by suggesting there should be restrictions on the number of northerners allowed to move south. Having caused a wave offence, the councillor has relented a bit. "We have friends in the north," he told the Gloucestershire Echo.

Ken Clarke misses four-finger salute

Ken Clarke had to hurry away early after receiving the Oldie of the Year award, so did not hear the speeches by other winners. One who particularly regretted his absence was Baroness Trumpington, the 89-year-old Tory peer who was named Peer of the Year. There was not much doubt that she was given the award for that occasion last year when she gave a two-finger salute in the Lords to a Tory colleague, Tom King, who had the temerity to say that she was looking "pretty old".

"I am very sorry that Ken is not in his place," she said, "because I had intended to salute his great honour." And she proceeded to give not one V-sign, but two.

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