THOSE of you who aren’t political anoraks may have missed the big story of the past week.
Last weekend Ed Miliband became the first Labour leader in 23 years to speak at the Durham Miners’ Gala, the huge annual trade union rally.
In her usual measured terms, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi summed up what he had done by saying he had gone to the North East “to cosy up to his militant, left-wing union paymasters.’’
Similarly reasoned arguments came from other commentators as Mr Miliband was accused of reviving the ghost of Bad Old Labour by having the temerity to speak at an event attended by 100,000 people – the great majority of whom, it seems fair to guess, vote for his party.
But there was one little detail in the coverage of the Labour leader’s visit to Durham which struck me as intriguing.
Every single news report I read about the event – every single one – included the crucial background information that the gala included 50 brass bands. That’s right, fifty.
Can there be any better illustration of Red Ed’s unelectable extremism than his willingness to listen to trumpets, trombones and tenor horns?
Like Mr Miliband, I spend part of my weekend in the presence of these instruments.
On Sunday I went to Birstall – hardly a hotbed of socialism – to hear Sellers International Youth Band play outside Oakwell Hall.
And a very pleasant afternoon it was listening to those dedicated young Huddersfield musicians performing in such scenic surroundings.
Although I’m not from this part of the world I am rather fond of brass bands. There’s something about the music which seems perfectly in tune with the Pennine landscape.
The cornet only needs to parp its first note to immediately conjure up images of drystone walls and mill chimneys.
So I couldn’t help wondering why every news report about Mr Miliband’s visit to the Durham Miners’ Gala had to mention those 50 brass bands.
Perhaps it was just a trivial inclusion. But maybe, just maybe, it was an indication of some unspoken metropolitan contempt for any culture other than London’s.