Ed Miliband has an image problem. And the Labor Party thinks Barack Obama can fix it.

Ed Miliband is desperate to meet Barack Obama. The BBC is reporting that Miliband, the leader of the opposition party in the United Kingdom, is lobbying heavily for a meeting with the president before next year’s general election.


US President Barack Obama meets with Britain's Labor Party leader Ed Miliband at Buckingham Palace in central London, Tuesday May 24, 2011. Obama is on a two day state visit to Britain. (AP Photo/Stefan Rousseau, Pool)

Why, you might ask, given that the pair met in Buckingham Palace three years ago? The Labor Party thinks that, to boost Miliband's chances of winning next year’s general election, they need to tackle his image problem. (Polls suggest that 60% of the British public do not see him as “up to the job” of leading the country.) According a former adviser to Tony Blair, meeting with the U.S. president is "the nearest the leader of the opposition gets to a job interview for prime minister."

Organizing a meeting shouldn't be a problem for Miliband, given that he’s spent £300,000 on consultancy services on former Obama top strategist David Axelrod. A Labor Party spokesman dismissed the push for a meeting as “pure speculation” today, while the White House has declined to comment on whether the president will meet with Miliband. But if Labor's lobbying efforts turn out to be successful, what might the pair get up to? Here are some activities both politicians enjoy:

1. Eat with regular folks

As Obama’s recent trip to Denver showed, he’s a man who loves hanging out with ordinary Americans. The White House has been talking up how “the bear is loose." Team Miliband has the same idea; he recently undertook a 10-stop tour of the U.K. to chat with ordinary Brits. Unfortunately, he was photographed trying to eat a bacon sandwich for breakfast. The bacon sandwich won.

2. Shoot some pool

While on tours of their respective countries, both Obama and Miliband have shown a fondness for playing pool with their new-acquainted ordinary friends. However, it’s a game that appears to come more easily to Obama than Miliband. In Denver last week, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) described the president as a “shark” after he lost twice to the president. He probably wouldn't face much of a struggle beating Miliband.

3. Greet ordinary people on the street

Saying hello to voters on the street is a key part of any meeting of political minds. When the prime minister visited the U.S. two years ago, he went to a basketball game with Obama; they chatted with spectators while watching the game. Sometimes though, these encounters don’t go as planned. Obama was recently greeted by a man wearing a horse mask. Miliband had an egg thrown off his head.


LEFT: File photo dated 14/08/13 of Labor leader Ed Miliband after he was pelted with eggs during a campaign visit in East Street market in Walworth, south London. Issue date: Sunday December 15, 2013. See PA story XMAS Year. Photo credit should read: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire
RIGHT: President Barack Obama greets an enthusiastic crowd during an impromptu walk down 15th Street after having dinner at Wazee Supper Club on Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

4. Be photographed with their wives

Miliband and Obama enjoy the occasional public displays of affection. After all, what better way to appear normal than being photographed kissing your wife? When Obama was snapped with the First Lady, it was a passionate embrace. Miliband’s photographed encounter with his wife, Justine, on the other hand looked a little more ... awkward.

5. Take some selfies

It’s impossible to be a political leader in 2014 without indulging in the occasional selfie. Whereas Obama only occasionally says yes to an arm's length snap, Miliband rarely says no. Last year, the potential future prime minister posed for a selfie with reality TV star Joey Essex after a fundraising event. Since then, a bromance has developed between the two, with plenty more selfies taken for the album.

Sebastian Payne is a national reporter with The Washington Post. He is the Post’s 35th Laurence Stern fellow.
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