Elections not a beauty contest, says Miliband aide

As parliamentary private secretary to Ed Miliband, Wayne David acts as his party's "eyes and ears" around the House of Commons.

So you might think his boss would rather not hear what the Caerphilly MP is seeing and hearing at the moment. At the very least he might be intercepting the newspapers before they reach his boss.

Mr David is looking on the bright side of life: "I think the truth is we've seen a storm in a teacup over the last couple of days and Ed has been absolutely determined to stay focused on the issues of concern to the people of this country, issues of concern to him and that focus will continue laser-like into the future."

He said Mr Miliband had taken Labour a long way from a "catastrophic defeat" in 2010 and opinion polls suggested Labour were well placed for next year's general election.

The same opinion polls that suggest the Labour leader is more unpopular than Nick Clegg? Mr David acknowledged that "a great deal more needs to be done" and that Labour "need to do more to promote him as leader".

"General elections are not a beauty contest," he said in an echo of Mr Miliband's own strategy. "I don't believe that the people of this country look at a television and think 'who's the most photogenic person. What they're concerned about is the policies which parties have and what it'll mean to their lives and their families."

Older readers may remember that Mr David has been a PPS before - when Tony Blair was prime minister. He resigned from that job as part of an attempt to force Mr Blair from Downing Street. So what message does he have for any Labour MPs plotting a coup against his boss?

He pointed out that none had publicly called for Mr Miliband to quit. But he added: "I think it is important however that we do recognise that every single thing every Labour party member says has to be assessed whether or not that is good for the party and ultimately good for the country.

"It has been a distraction, over the last couple of days, and I think the parliamentary Labour party which is meeting tonight, will be absolutely clear that what we need to do is to focus everything on the general election and assess whether any actions, any comments made are an asset to the eventual attainment of that goal or not."

Mr Miliband won't be attending tonight's PLP meeting but his "eyes and ears" will doubtless be reporting back on all that is seen and heard.

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