Who’s that in the shiny black car? Local boy Ed Miliband comes home for visit
There were whoops of excitement from a group of teenage boys as they spotted opposition leader Ed Miliband pull up to their community centre in a glossy black car.
The Labour leader was in Queen’s Crescent to get the vote out for would-be Mayor Ken Livingstone – and his visit had created some interest.
As Mr Miliband stepped out of his car on Monday night (April 30) he was accosted by several teenagers who called out “Eddie, Eddie” and jostled to thrust their hand in his. Here was the kind of welcome the Labour leader could get used to.
Once inside Queen’s Crescent Community Centre, the Mr Miliband hammered home the message he had come to deliver – vote Ken Livingstone for Mayor and Andrew Dismore for the Camden and Barnet seat on the Greater London Authority (GLA).
He extolled the virtues of Mr Livingstone, a man he insisted could lower transport fares, help make privately rented homes cheaper through a new London Lettings Agency, and bring back the education maintenance allowance to help the poorest pupils stay in school.
Mr Miliband fielded some tough questions about the political situation in Somalia (which he promised to look into it and provide a written response), the UK’s extradition treaty with the US, and cuts to youth services.
But the theme he returned to time and again was the importance of voting, telling the audience of several dozen people: “These elections matter. They have a huge impact on the lives of people in this room. People fought for the right to vote so please use yours.”
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The former Haverstock pupil, who grew up round the corner in Primrose Hill with older brother David, artfully ducked a question about how he felt his leadership was going, but made several allusions to a “different kind of politics”.
“We cannot just do politics with me and David Cameron shouting at each other,” he elaborated.
Flattering the crowd, he added: “It has got to be about this kind of engagement.”
The meeting ended on a note of victory for Labour, with several members of the public pledging their support for the party.
Louie Francis, 14, a former Haverstock pupil who greeted Mr Miliband as he arrived, said: “I was pretty excited to see him turn up. He was the most famous person to turn up to Queen’s Crescent. He seemed like a nice guy.”
But the note of triumph was tainted for Mr Dismore as he departed the building, when he had to duck as pelted apples thrown by teenagers came whizzing inches from his head and those of others standing around him.
High spirits at news of Mr Miliband’s arrival had clearly turned to high jinx following his departure.
But Mr Dismore weaved his way through the fruit onslaught unscathed.
No doubt he is hoping for a slightly different response when he emerges from the election count tomorrow evening, when he is tipped by some election pundits to take the GLA seat from sitting Conservative candidate Brian Coleman, who has held it for 12 years.