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News, gossip and insight from PoliticsHome Editor Paul Waugh

'What Am I Doing?'

Some of the power of Ed Mili's barnstormer of speech came from the fact that its contents had been kept tightly secret for several weeks.

But I hear that CCHQ already knew some key sections well in advance - because the Labour leader and his aides blabbed them on the train on the way up to Manchester.

Team Ed were all sitting round a table (in economy natch) and spent the two-hour journey unwittingly being watched by a Tory staffer (who couldn't believe his luck at getting a seat where he did).

Ed spent a large part of the journey rehearsing some of the themes of the Big Speech, not least the attack on the banks and other interests.

The trip was interrupted when Bob Roberts got a call from the Sun on Sunday's David Wooding about a story he had on union funding and the Labour leader. Team Ed were relaxed about the story.*

A large part of the journey was spent obsessing about polls, particularly the leaked Populus study which just happened to fall into the hands of the press pack on the trip to the US and Brazil with David Cameron. The Tory polling showed 65% of voters felt David Miliband would have been a better leader than Ed.

Funnily enough, this morning Ed was on Daybreak today claiming: "I've not looked at the polls. People are less interested in the polls than what's happened to their family finances.."

Fortunately for Ed, however, he did not reveal the central One Nation message on his train trip up north. So at least the biggest surprise was kept under wraps.

But there was also one comic moment on the train journey when Ed expressed frustration with his team for not telling him his schedule for the coming days. "What am I doing? Who knows what I'm doing? Where's my f*cking diary?"

If his speech had bombed yesterday, the plea 'What am I doing?' would have taken on a quite different meaning.

Anyway, maybe in future Team Miliband will drive up to conference. Or at least travel in a Quiet Zone on the train...

 

 

*CORRECTION: An earlier claim made about the conversation has since been strenuously denied and it appears my source garbled it. As as result, I've deleted it.

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