Ed Miliband, accompanied by shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander, meeting Barack Obama at the White House earlier today. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Show Hide image

What Miliband and Obama talked about

The pair met for 25 minutes at the White House and discussed issues including the economy, climate change and the Scottish referendum. 

To the undoubted relief of Labour, Ed Miliband got his meeting with Barack Obama (and a bit more than a "brush-by"). The pair talked at the White House for 25 minutes after Obama joined Miliband's discussion with National Security Adviser Susan Rice. Douglas Alexander, Labour strategist Stewart Wood and Miliband's chief of staff Tim Livesey were also present. 

For all the inevitable cynicism around the meeting, a photo with the US president ten months before a general election will do the Labour leader no harm, and likely some good. Indeed, as he told British foreign correspondents before the meeting: "I am going because I want to be prime minister of Britain in less than ten months and because it is incredibly important - and it is what I think the British people would want - to have a prime minister who works closely with the United States."

Here's the Labour readout of the meeting: 

Ed Miliband today met President Barack Obama for talks in the White House.

The Leader of the Opposition and the President discussed a range of issues, including the situation in Ukraine, Gaza, and the future of the European Union.

The pair also discussed the economy, climate change & the approaching referendum in Scotland.

The meeting lasted around 25 minutes.

Mr. Miliband also met the President's National Security Advisor Susan Rice and held talks with senior politicians in Washington.

And here's the White House's:

President Obama joined National Security Advisor Rice's meeting today with Mr. Ed Miliband, leader of the United Kingdom's opposition Labour Party. Mr Miliband was meeting with Ambassador Rice to discuss issues of shared concern, including the situations in Ukraine, Israel/Gaza, and Iraq. The President and Mr. Miliband affirmed the strong ties that bind the United States and the United Kingdom. The President and Mr. Miliband met previously during the President's visit to London in May 2011.

Earlier in the day, Miliband gave a seminar at the Centre for American Progress (Obama's favourite think-tank) attended by senior US figures, including Maryland governor Martin O'Malley and Jason Furman, one of the US president's senior economic advisers. In his opening remarks on the MH17 shooting, Miliband said: 

“This is the moment for a strong, determined and outward-looking EU to step up to its responsibilities.

“Europe and America must stand together as they have at crucial moments in the past.

“As President Obama made clear in his state visit to the UK in 2011, Europe is a cornerstone of US global engagement. Together we are the most potent catalyst for global action that there is in the world today.

“In the aftermath of the terrible tragedy of flight MH17 we must again be that catalyst for global solidarity and decisive action.

“And to achieve those ends this we need Britain at the heart of a reformed and resolute EU.

“Nothing could illustrate more starkly than the need for European and American partnership than the cloud cast globally from the events in the skies in Ukraine.

“Britain in Europe working in partnership with America is not only in all our interests, it is the best way to promote stability and prosperity across the globe.”

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Show Hide image

It's Gary Lineker 1, the Sun 0

The football hero has found himself at the heart of a Twitter storm over the refugee children debate.

The Mole wonders what sort of topsy-turvy universe we now live in where Gary Lineker is suddenly being called a “political activist” by a Conservative MP? Our favourite big-eared football pundit has found himself in a war of words with the Sun newspaper after wading into the controversy over the age of the refugee children granted entry into Britain from Calais.

Pictures published earlier this week in the right-wing press prompted speculation over the migrants' “true age”, and a Tory MP even went as far as suggesting that these children should have their age verified by dental X-rays. All of which leaves your poor Mole with a deeply furrowed brow. But luckily the British Dental Association was on hand to condemn the idea as unethical, inaccurate and inappropriate. Phew. Thank God for dentists.

Back to old Big Ears, sorry, Saint Gary, who on Wednesday tweeted his outrage over the Murdoch-owned newspaper’s scaremongering coverage of the story. He smacked down the ex-English Defence League leader, Tommy Robinson, in a single tweet, calling him a “racist idiot”, and went on to defend his right to express his opinions freely on his feed.

The Sun hit back in traditional form, calling for Lineker to be ousted from his job as host of the BBC’s Match of the Day. The headline they chose? “Out on his ears”, of course, referring to the sporting hero’s most notable assets. In the article, the tabloid lays into Lineker, branding him a “leftie luvvie” and “jug-eared”. The article attacked him for describing those querying the age of the young migrants as “hideously racist” and suggested he had breached BBC guidelines on impartiality.

All of which has prompted calls for a boycott of the Sun and an outpouring of support for Lineker on Twitter. His fellow football hero Stan Collymore waded in, tweeting that he was on “Team Lineker”. Leading the charge against the Murdoch-owned title was the close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Channel 4 News economics editor, Paul Mason, who tweeted:

Lineker, who is not accustomed to finding himself at the centre of such highly politicised arguments on social media, responded with typical good humour, saying he had received a bit of a “spanking”.

All of which leaves the Mole with renewed respect for Lineker and an uncharacteristic desire to watch this weekend’s Match of the Day to see if any trace of his new activist persona might surface.


I'm a mole, innit.