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4 August 2014updated 23 Jul 2021 9:04am

Why Ed Miliband’s WWI wreath message wasn’t handwritten

A picture was tweeted out today of David Cameron’s handsigned WWI memorial wreath, contrasted with a generic “From the Leader of the Opposition” from Ed Miliband. But it’s not what it looks like.

By Anoosh Chakelian

It’s one of those sombre moments that politicians have to ensure they get right. Laying the memorial wreaths for the First World War centenary commemoration. Perhaps that’s why a story about the disparity between our party leaders’ memorial wreath messages is flickering about online today with that distinctive shiver of schadenfreude unique to Twitter. 

A picture was tweeted this afternoon of David Cameron and Ed Miliband’s messages side by side. The PM’s, in a sober, respectful swish of blue ink, read a personal message in his handwriting. The Labour leader’s, in contrast, was a generic explanatory message scrawled in a sharpie: “From the Leader of the Opposition”. It wasn’t even joined up.

Here’s the picture, from Channel 4 News’ Ciaran Jenkins:

It undeniably looks bad, but the real story is not one of the Labour leader’s scruffy disrespect for the the war dead. Mark Ferguson at LabourList is reporting that Miliband was handed the wreath seconds before he had to lay it down, and he was never given a chance to write a message. It’s the explanation Labour HQ has given for the impersonal note Miliband ended up placing down, but it remains unclear why the PM was given a chance to write his beforehand.

It seems Nick Clegg was also denied the chance to write his own message. Here’s a picture of his, “From the Deputy Prime Minister”, pointed out by the Guardian‘s Jonathan Haynes:

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