"I hope that this isn't a political gimmick".
That is how the Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling accidentally reacted to the news that the former head of the British army, Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, might be appointed a junior defence minister. Unfortunately for Mr Grayling, the gimmick - if it is one - was a Tory and not a Labour one.
Mr Grayling clearly misheard my colleague Emily Maitlis's question. Here's a transcript of the exchange:
Emily Maitlis: General Dannatt being lined up to be a junior defence minister in a future Tory government. Can you tell us more about this?
Chris Grayling: I admire the work of General Dannatt and other senior generals who've done so much in Afghanistan and done so much to lead. I hope that this isn't a political gimmick. We've seen too many appointments in this government of external people where it's all been about Gordon Brown's PR. General Dannatt's an experienced figure and should rightly be working alongside government. But I'm always suspicious of government's motives when it does things like this.
The question followed the news that Gen Dannatt is to be elevated to the House of Lords where he will advise the Tories on defence matters. Some Tories suggest that he is being lined up to be a junior defence minister in a future Tory government with specific responsibility for operations in Afghanistan. However, sources close to David Cameron are playing down that possibility.
What Mr Grayling dismissed as a "gimmick" was originally planned to be the major new announcement in David Cameron's speech tomorrow.
Update 15:30: A sheepish Chris Grayling has just returned to clear up what he called the "misunderstanding" about his earlier comments.
He said he had misheard the question and had thought General Dannatt had taken up a government appointment.
He goes on to say it is "great news" that the general is joining the Conservatives and that he'd wished he had known before "as I'd have liked to have given him a more enthusiastic welcome".
Moral of the story - don't open your mouth if you don't know what you're talking about.