Andy McSmith's Election Diary: We learnt one thing about Miliband... he never won a Blue Peter badge


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Indy Politics

Here’s one Ed didn’t make earlier

Labour always hoped that a general election campaign would help voters see through Ed Miliband’s geekish image to the hard-nosed political leader that lurks beneath. Well, we learnt one thing just before last night’s debate that startled many Miliband watchers. He never won a Blue Peter badge!

It has been accepted wisdom in the Westminster village at least since the summer of 2013 that, when he was 10 years old, Ed Miliband went on Blue Peter and recited the names of every British prime minister since Robert Walpole, for which, naturally, he was awarded the prestigious badge. This was so embedded in the zeitgeist that David Cameron included a caustic reference to “Red Ed and his Blue Peter economy” in his speech to the 2013 Conservative conference.

But on Absolute Radio today, Miliband denied the whole story. “This is total mythology,” he said. “I wish I owned a Blue Peter badge. The only thing I can claim on this is that I met John Noakes once at King’s Cross station. I remember asking for his autograph. I was about 10 years old. He was moderately friendly.”

But can he recite the name of every prime minister since Walpole? He was asked, and gave a sort of half-hearted half-denial. I’m not convinced that he can’t.

Quote of the day

“I had exactly the same. When they [the CND] challenged me to a debate ‘any time, any place, anywhere’. I made it quite clear, that, as Secretary of State for Defence, I didn’t debate with the mob on the streets.”

Lord Heseltine (below) tells ‘Property Week’ why David Cameron could have said no to last night’s debate.

Who Gets Who’s vote? No one

“Who would Doctor Who vote for?” asks the New Statesman, in the light of David Tennant’s declaration of support for Labour. The answer is obvious: he is not qualified to vote. He is a Time Lord. It is a long-standing feature of the British political system that lords do not take part in voting for members of the Commons. Keep up!

Daft quote of the day

“It’s diabolical and undemocratic.”

Ray Hall, from Southampton, is furious that the Electoral Commission has prevented him from registering the “Beer, Baccy and Crumpet Party” because – as the Commission rightly states –“crumpet” is demeaning.

Ageing but not retiring

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the Speaker of the House of Lords, Baroness D’Souza, praises the 20 peers who have breached the principle that a life peerage is for life by taking advantage of recent legislation that enables them to resign – the latest being the former Home Secretary, David Waddington, and Michael Ashcroft, the billionaire publisher and pollster.

She suggests that it would improve the reputation of the Upper House if some of the other 784 members took the same course. She is too polite to name names, but might she be thinking of some old war horses like Lord Healey, 97, or Lord Carrington, 95, who were major figures but whose days as active politicians are over – or some less conspicuous members, such as Harold Wilson’s former adviser, Baroness Falkender, who has been in the Lords since 1974, but has never contributed to any debates? There are also four peers who retain their membership despite having been to prison for serious offences – but that is a separate issue, and there is legislation which will in future allow the Lords to expel criminals.