Labour leader called ‘out of touch’ after embarrassing campaign slips
A difficult day on the campaign trail reached an embarrassing low for Ed Miliband when he tried to busk his way through a local radio interview after failing to recognise the name of a local Labour leader.
Hours after he appeared to under-estimate his family’s weekly grocery bill, the Labour leader was reduced to asking a presenter on BBC radio Wiltshire to “enlighten” him after he was asked for his views on the leader of the Labour group in Swindon.
The mistakes on radio and television are likely to ring alarm bells in the Labour party amid fears that Miliband is less well prepared than David Cameron and Nick Clegg for the cut and thrust of broadcasting on the campaign trail.
The Labour leader ran into trouble when he was asked on BBC Wiltshirefor his views of Jim Grant by the presenter Ben Prater who stopped short of mentioning that he is the leader of the Labour group on Swindon Borough Council. “You will enlighten me I’m sure,” Miliband said when he was asked by Prater whether he knew who Grant is.
Miliband then wrongly described Grant as the leader of the Tory-led council. “Well he is doing a good job as leader of the council – Jim is. And I think that is the case.” When Prater pointed out that Grant is not leader of the council, Miliband said: “Well, I think he is doing a good job for Labour on the council. He is doing a good job for Labour on the council.”
Ryan Bourne, head of public policy at the Institute for Economic Affairs,tweeted: “This must be one of those moments you dread as a party leader.”
Miliband’s awkward radio interview came after he insisted he is well placed to focus on the cost of living crisis in Britain even though he appeared to under-estimate his family’s weekly grocery bill. The Labour leader, who said it is right to place the issue at the front of his general election campaign even though he is “relatively comfortably off”, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that his family spends at least £70 to £80 a week – and probably more – on groceries.
When he was told that the average weekly bill for a family of four was more than £100, he said: “Right, well it [the grocery bill] is more than £100.”
The most recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) report on family spending shows that for a household such as Miliband’s comprising two parents and two children the average weekly spend on food and non-alcoholic drinks is £83.60. Including alcohol and tobacco the figure rises to £96.