Why has a former cheerleader hauled Ed Miliband over the carpet?

According to the Mail on Sunday, Miliband should have caused panic by heralding the financial meltdown well in advance

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Suspicion mounts that a sleeper lurks under deep cover in the heart of Associated Newspapers, with a mission to improve Ed Miliband’s image.

Following the daily title’s deranged depiction of his father as “The Man Who Hated Britain”, The Mail on Sunday excites further affection by serialising a book written by former Doncaster mayor Martin Winter (“the man who made Ed Miliband an MP”). From the admittedly limited coverage (pages 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14, plus the main leader), the “scandal” is Winter’s claim that the Eds Miliband and Balls knew the economy was about to tank a year before it happened in 2008, “but kept it secret”.

According to the leader, this “reignites David Cameron’s case that Labour simply is not fit to be trusted with the economy”. Aha. Presumably, the ideal way to prepare for the oncoming storm – a global event, as the paper fails to mention – would have been to cause catastrophic panic by heralding it well in advance.

Anyway, with that “bombshell” detonated, Winter takes us back to 2005 when he first met the “unbelievably gracious and charming” Miliband and his boss, Gordon Brown, over tea at the Treasury, and then hosted Miliband at his home.


But what explains Winter’s transition from Ed-lover to soothsayer of cataclysm should he reach No 10? Is it that Ed burned his carpet with a misplaced convector heater? Was he bamboozled by the Winter children’s breakfast debate as to whether a Seurat painting belonged to the Pointillist or Expressionist schools? Or that he allowed those kids to browbeat him into overpaying them for help with campaign literature (“If he can’t cope with our Marcey,” Winter asks, “how’s he going to cope when it’s Putin?”)?

While it may be the above – and if a fellow can’t handle a convector heater, what’s he gonna do with the nuclear codes? – the lines that leap out from his portrait of a startlingly decent politician are these: “I had already told very senior party officials I wanted to be a successful mayor,” Winter recalls in his entry about that Treasury tea, “and then join the Lords. It had been indicated that I had every expectation of achieving that.” Hell hath no fury like an ambitious apparatchik with a scorched carpet and no ermine to cover the hole.


Safety first for all MPs  – except George

The right not only to free speech but to have that right protected is sovereign, it appears, unless you are George Galloway. The man who savagely beat up George last summer, we learn, was not his only attacker.

Two others with scant appetite for the Galloway take on Israel/Palestine have recently assaulted him – one verbally, the other physically as he took his three-year-old son to a Christmas event in Hyde Park.

Given the potential consequences should a fourth carry a knife, you’d have thought the state would offer him protection, but neither the police nor John Bercow are eager to help. If the Met is unwilling to spare one of the many officers who accompany Mr Tony Blair on his philanthropic world tour, Bercow might persuade them. He wouldn’t want his time as Speaker to be remembered for one inexplicable abnegation of his duty to protect MPs.


Thierry lays down his life for Sky – and £4m

Not since the disciples laid eyes upon the risen Christ has a coming been greeted with the beatific fervour that attended Thierry Henry’s arrival as a Premier League pundit on Sky Sports. If you missed the relentlessly screened trailer, it featured the Frenchman in sub-Cantona mode. “This league gave me everything. I took it, I embraced it, but then you have to give something back.” Oh, you do, especially for £4m a year. “You can always do better, dream better, learn better, teach better … I always believe in better. That’s how I will die” By weirdest happenstance, “always believe in better” is also the broadcaster’s mantra. Greater love hath no pundit than that he lay down his life for a Sky slogan.


Oh ****, it’s the return  of the asterisk

Such starry days for the asterisk. Confined for so long to the F- and C-words (and “t*t” when printed within 0.35 inches of a Page 3 nipple), it can thank Celebrity Big Brother for the revival. In recent days, the Daily Mirror has pioneered “n***o”, after a housemate used the word “negro” of fellow contestant Alexander O’Neal, while The Sun gave a debut to “f****t” after O’Neal called an American gossip writer a “silly ass faggot”. I remember a time when “ass” was rendered as “a*s” in The Sun, so nothing is set in stone. But, for now, Mr Brain’s is warned against wasting any money on advertising its choicest f*****s in the more effete outposts of the Murdoch empire.


Grant Shapps, the Tories’ prolier-than-thou poster boy

With the Conservative press swinging behind the Tory election drive, Grant Shapps is delicately interviewed in The Times. The Tory chairman was on fine prolier-than-thou form as he celebrated Nando’s (“I do like junk food. For me, Nando’s is a step up”), while his interviewers alerted us to his “modest 1920s home in his Welwyn constituency”. Lack of space precluded reference to Grant’s old career as a proselytiser of vulgar wealth, when as “Michael Green” he published the Stinking Rich series. Also omitted was his ownership of two planes, and his recent objection to a plan to build homes on the airfield where they are kept. No one could argue with his vehicular needs – a chap needs quick access to Nando’s when the peri-peri craving takes hold – and it’s hard to imagine a stronger candidate for the crucial role of Tory Dennis Skinner.