Ed Miliband stumbles on Swindon politics in radio gaffe

Miliband praised Jim Grant without appearing to know who he was. Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Labour leader Ed Miliband got caught out in a regional radio interview when he was unable to identify his party's leader on the local borough council and appeared not to know the authority was Conservative-led.

Mr Miliband was ambushed on BBC Wiltshire when presenter Ben Prater asked him what he thought of Jim Grant, without explaining who Cllr Grant was.

The Labour leader initially said that "lots of Labour representatives" were doing a good job, but then had to ask Prater to "enlighten me" about Grant.

When told who he was, Mr Miliband blundered again by suggesting that he was the leader of Swindon Borough Council, rather than just part of the Labour opposition.

Listen to the interview on the BBC News website.

The interview - one of a series of down-the-line chats Mr Miliband has done as part of his campaign for Thursday's local and European elections - got off to a bad start when Prater tried to hand over to the station's weather reporter, only to be greeted by the words "Hello, it's Ed Miliband."

"Ed Miliband, you don't want to do the weather for us do you?" he joked, receiving the reply: "No, I think I might get it wrong."

Miliband said Swindon Labour councilllor Jim Grant was "doing a good job". Credit: Swindon Borough Council

And things did not go much better once the interview started in earnest, with Prater asking Miliband his opinion of the local Labour politician:

BP: "What do you make of Jim Grant?"

EM: "I beg your pardon?"

BP: "Jim Grant, do you think he has done a good job?"

EM: "I think that lots of Labour representatives are doing a good job right across the country and I..."

BP: "You do know who Jim Grant is, Mr Miliband?"

EM: "You will enlighten me, I am sure."

BP: "Swindon Labour leader."

EM: "Yeah, I think he is doing a good job."

BP: "Will he feel like you support him enough if you don't even know his name?"

EM: "Well he is doing a good job as leader of the council, Jim is, and I think that is the case."

BP: "I mean it's Swindon Labour leader. Do you think by your comments now people might be a bit perplexed by why you wouldn't know who Jim Grant is?"

EM: "No, I know that Jim is doing a good job for Swindon and I think he is doing a good job as leader of the council."

BP: "But he is not the leader of the council is he, Mr Miliband? It's a Conservative led council."

EM: "I think he is doing a good job for Labour on the council. I think he is doing a good job for Labour on the council."

BP: "So let's be clear. Who runs Swindon council?"

EM: "It's a Conservative-controlled council."

It capped a tough day for Miliband, who earlier struggled to name the cost of a weekly shop for a family of four when asked about it on ITV's Good Morning Britain.

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