UK Politics

Miliband apologises to Labour councillor over name gaffe

Ed Miliband Image copyright Getty Images

Labour leader Ed Miliband has apologised to one of his senior councillors after failing to recognise his name in an interview.

Mr Miliband had to ask a presenter on BBC Wiltshire to "enlighten" him about Jim Grant, who leads the opposition Labour group on Swindon Council.

He then mistakenly thought Mr Grant was the council leader, not the opposition leader.

Jim Grant said what happened was "slightly unfortunate".

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Media captionEd Miliband on Swindon

Speaking to BBC evening news programme Points West, Cllr Grant said: "I have spoken to Ed this morning. He apologised for the obvious lack of briefing that he had.

"But these things happen. I don't think this will affect the elections in any way, shape or form on Thursday".

'Sneaking sympathy'

Mr Miliband made the blunder on Tuesday when he was being grilled by presenter Ben Prater over his local knowledge of Swindon, ahead of Thursday's European and English local elections.

Asked whether he thought Cllr Grant was doing a good job, the Labour leader initially responded that "lots of Labour representatives" were doing good work across the country.

Mr Miliband was then pressed to say if he knew who he was, to which he replied: "You will enlighten me, I am sure."

After being informed about the Labour councillor's role, Mr Miliband told the radio programme: "Jim is doing a good job for Swindon and I think he is doing a good job as leader of the council".

It was then pointed out to Mr Miliband that Swindon is a Conservative-controlled council.

It is made up of 28 Tory councillors, 23 Labour, 4 Liberal Democrats, and one independent.

Speaking to LBC radio from Manchester, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said he had a "sneaking sympathy" for Mr Miliband.

He said it was a "little bit harsh" to expect the Labour leader to know "precisely the name and serial number" of everyone in his party.

Mr Clegg successfully identified the leader of the Lib Dem contingent on Labour-controlled Manchester council as Simon Wheale, when asked, but was keen to point out that he was "an old friend".