David Miliband caught asleep on the Tube: Whatever transport they choose, our politicians can’t win

Bus, taxi, limo? It has to be the bike...


You need to get across London as quickly as possible. What to do?

Hop on the Tube, of course. What, though, if you’re a politician? The journey becomes all the more fraught, as David Miliband discovered when a smartphone picture caught him slumped asleep on the Piccadilly Line. That his flies were undone didn’t go unnoticed.

Leaving aside the fairness of intruding on such vulnerable slumber – would the picture have been deemed so hilarious if it had been a female MP caught napping, legs akimbo? – Miliband’s upskirt moment will do far less damage to his image than that blessed banana picture. There is something quite reassuring about seeing an MP worn out by his work. In a man of power, pallor and rumples are infinitely more trustworthy than a tan and a medallion.

What were Miliband’s alternatives? It’s a vexed question. For an MP, how you get from A to B is almost as crucial as whether you vote aye or nay. Boris Johnson crashed Nick Clegg’s radio phone-in this week to ask when he was going to get ministers “out of their posh limos and on to public transport”.

Limos, clearly, are a no-no, although Welsh Secretary David Jones, who used one to travel 100m from Whitehall to Downing Street and back, clearly didn’t get the memo. Bus? Too try-hard. Taxi? Not try-hard enough and comes with significant risk of a cabbie earbashing. Scooter? Too public-schoolboy-in-Putney. Carriage? Too Queeny. Train? George “first-class” Osborne ruined that for everyone. And choosing a motor – pious Prius or screw-you Saab – is a minefield. Ask Two Jags Prescott.

It has to be a bike. Everyone loves bikes: eco-friendly, democratic, positive Wiggo associations, potential for looking lovable in Lycra and hilarious in helmet. But even two wheels can lead to downfall. You might, for example, mess it up by being followed by a car carrying your briefcase, or lose your temper in the saddle and not call a policeman a pleb.

Walking it is. Two legs good, and all that. Except that on foot there is always the danger of someone spotting that top-secret memo in your hand. Or pelting you with an egg. Perhaps it would be safer if MPs just stayed at home – but which of their homes? Oh, I give up.

* It's a sign of the times, possibly. The people have spoken and Monopoly has a new piece – a silver cat, with a smart M symbol on its silver collar. It will replace the flat iron, which was, as we all know, the anti-feminist loser's choice, though always quite pleasingly smooth to glide around the board with.

In the online poll, the iron came joint bottom with the boot and the wheelbarrow (there's a wheelbarrow? Not in the Jones family set) while the lovable Scottie dog raced to the top, taking 29 per cent of the vote. And so it will remain in the red-and-white box alongside Top Hat and pals to do rainy weekend and backseat battle with a new feline adversary for ever more. Or until the next poll.

That a cat won the vote for a new piece is hardly surprising. The internet loves cats: there are thousands of Lolcatz sites, not a single Lolironz site. The cat beat a guitar, a helicopter and a diamond ring to the job. Which would be quite a heartening tale of the triumph of nature over brash consumerism if we weren't talking about a board game whose goal is to buy as many houses and make as much cash as possible while bankrupting your friends and family.

Twitter: @alicevjones

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