For the edification of Ed Miliband

It was unwise to mix Mr Miliband and a bacon butty. Here are some better photo-op ideas...

Excellent work from Team Miliband, getting pictures of the Labour leader into the newspapers on the day of the European election vote. Unfortunately, they had achieved this by advising him to gobble a bacon butty on camera, while wearing a suit and tie. What was their second idea – a bowl of spaghetti?

I like Ed Miliband; he strikes me as bright and well-intentioned (and, when I met him on a TV show last year, warm and charming). But honestly, in those pictures, he looked like he'd never eaten before.

Do you remember Pastygate? Miliband queuing awkwardly at a Greggs, with Ed Balls doing the ordering? Bumbling out of the shop with far too many sausage rolls?

Two years later, somebody high up in the Labour strategy unit must have gone: "Well, that worked a treat. Definitely brought us one step closer to power. Now, what other working-class foods can we get him to eat?"

There has been a central flaw in the marketing of Ed Miliband since the day he got the job: they are trying to make him look "normal".

In heaven's name, why?

He was elected leader of the party in the year of The Social Network, three years after the end of The West Wing. This is the age of Zuckerberg and Gates, apps and QI, Brian Cox and Benedict Cumberbatch. A geeky leader would be perfect for our times.

Speaking as the proud host of Britain's most difficult quiz (Mondays on BBC Four etc etc), I watch our contestants – bespectacled, bejumpered, feverishly keen on Shostakovich symphonies or Sanskrit jokes – and I know that, confident in their priorities and passions, they look cool. They look cool, they look clever and I would trust them to run the world.

Ed Miliband should be out and proud about his abstruse interests, his Masters in economics, his political obsession, his prioritising of the mental over the physical.

He should be outside threatened libraries explaining what books have done for him, enthusing about computers and calculus and classical music, not forced into Everyman scenarios where he's obviously uncomfortable.

And yet, they keep making him pose for pictures where he's going to look cartoonish and silly. Cary Grant himself could not have pulled off that bacon butty with elan.

One can't help wondering what other photo-ops are planned by Ed's advisers, as we run up to the general election…


To mark the onset of summer, targeting a double whammy of young voters and the famously dog-loving people of Britain, Ed goes rollerblading with an excitable spaniel.


Wimbledon is here! To help advertise this most British of events, Ed hits Centre Court for a showcase five-set match against Andy Murray.


It's holiday time but Ed agrees that, in return for being otherwise left alone with his family, he'll do a quick photocall. And where better than a go-karting track on a windy day?


There's a feeling that the leader's image could use a bit of edge. A friendly paparazzo is tipped off to be on hand in Somerset as Ed Miliband is caught scrumping in a farmer's orchard. The farmer is warned to bring only the lightest of air rifles.


Everyone loves Halloween, and the PR team spots a perfect opportunity for Ed to mix this fun occasion with traditional politics: he'll do an old-school door-to-door canvas of local neighbourhoods, dressed as Freddie Krueger.


It's fireworks night and ITN news is invited to watch Ed set off a few roman candles. Still nervous about the popularity of man-of-the-people Nigel Farage, the team encourages Ed to drink several pints beforehand.


Strictly Come Dancing is the nation's favourite programme, with huge ratings expected for Christmas.

The final kicks off in style with a one-off guest appearance from Ed Miliband, doing the paso doble. (Ed plays the bull.)


The newspapers are publishing their travel supplements, but Britain's tourist industry has begged all party leaders to help them promote "staycations". Ed is the only one to agree. His office arranges for the press to line up on Bournemouth beach, where Ed will personally erect a deckchair and then sit down in it holding a large cocktail.


Showing his domestic side, Ed is interviewed on Good Morning Britain while baking homemade bread. It's a fun guest spot; nobody minds when Ed ends up with his hair full of breadcrumbs. And it's straight from there to his next public appearance – at an owl sanctuary.


To demonstrate his ease with the Special Relationship, Ed flies to America for a public appearance at Seaworld. He's wearing a special pair of billowing union jack shorts for the occasion. Unfortunately, the orca is in a bad mood…


In a last-ditch attempt to cement Ed Miliband's image as a macho leader for our times, his advisers send him to compete in Britain's Strongest Man.


Don't forget to vote!


Victoria Coren Mitchell

The GuardianTramp

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