Labour Conference Diary: The spin doctor, the BBC and the leader who didn't lead the news
Tom Baldwin, who does for Ed Miliband what Alastair Campbell did for Tony Blair, was the victim of the revenge of the BBC. On Tuesday evening he rang the corporation to discuss its coverage of the Labour leader's big conference speech, which the BBC judged to be a less important story than the disappearance of five-year-old April Jones. Baldwin would say he made a routine call to emphasise the importance of his boss's speech. At the BBC, they seem to think he was trying to harangue them into attaching more importance to a politician's words than to fears for the life of a young child.
The phone call evoked memories of Campbell berating the BBC for judging that the OJ Simpson murder trial was more important than Tony Blair's address to the 1995 conference – or Malcolm Tucker's verbal assault on television executives in an old episode of The Thick of It.
Yesterday, word whizzed around the press room at the Labour conference that hacks should watch Nick Robinson's report on the 6 O'Clock News because it contained a "YouTube moment". Hacks were glued to screens anticipating a gaffe by Ed Miliband. What they saw was a shot of Baldwin listening to the leader speak with his head in his hands, as if clutching his head in despair. It was a funny but cruel illustration of how a camera can lie.
Ed begins to feel the love
In the afterglow of Ed Miliband's leader's speech, the stall offering 'I love Ed' cufflinks sold out. That's 15 people somewhere in possession of cufflinks proclaiming their love for their leader. The 12 Che Guevara cufflinks also sold out. Somebody has even paid good money for a pair of 'Old Brownite' cufflinks. It would be interesting who it could be. I am reliably informed that it was not Ed Balls.
One Nation? It means more staff and fewer leaflets
What does being a One Nation party actually mean? Wags have suggested it is just an anagram of "No Etonian". At Labour HQ, the party is trying to double the number of its part-time paid organisers, from 100 to 200. Four job ads are already on the party website, but the cost is heavy for a party that no longer pulls in huge donations. To help meet the costs, the general-secretary, Iain McNicol, is clamping down severely on leaflets and posters.
West Coast rail fails to make agenda
Before yesterday's bombshell about the mishandling of the West Coast rail franchise, the rail union Aslef and nine different local Labour parties had all submitted bids to get the railways and who owns them on to the conference agenda. They were all rejected by the Conference Arrangements Committee, which decides what will and will not be discussed, on the grounds they were not "contemporary". With hindsight, not a good call.
Quote of the day: 'One nation'
Uttered by Sam Miliband, aged 22 months. Ed Miliband claims that, while his son "can't properly speak", he repeated the phrase after hearing his father rehearse his party conference speech.
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