Farage and Miliband admit nerves and tiredness: Are they human after all?

Nigel Farage Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nigel Farage briefly let his guard down before stepping onto the stage at his party's annual conference

It was one of those flukes that generate magic TV moments.

I unexpectedly found myself face-to-face with Nigel Farage.

He was striding through an almost empty cafeteria towards the auditorium where he was about to make his conference speech.

I had been packing up my small video camera before taking my own seat but it rapidly came back out of the bag.

I'd been expecting the usual smile, wave and maybe the odd word of confidence that all party leaders exude at such moments.

"Feeling confident, Nigel?" I asked.

"Ask me afterwards," he chortled.

Then he paused and said something that I doubt any other party leader would dare to admit.

"Quite frankly, I'm scared."

Five minutes later there was not a trace of those pre-speech nerves as around 1,500 party faithful lapped up every word.

Over the past couple of decades I have interviewed every party leader and the one thing they have all had in common is their reluctance to admit any suggestion of personal weakness.

Modern political party machines work hard at creating Teflon-coated images of faultless leaders with iron constitutions and totally loyal members.

Exceptions to this rule are rare.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ed Miliband spoke without notes for 80 minutes and made a couple of big omissions

Ed Miliband had one of those moments at the Labour Party Conference in Manchester.

There was no chance of getting anywhere near him for a chat just before he took to the stage.

His speech was an all-ticket affair and reporters were warned that unless we were in place at least 15 minutes before his entrance our seats would be "reallocated".

We were also tipped off that it was going to be a Kinnock-busting 80 minutes long so reducing the coffee intake might be a good idea before sitting down.

In the event it was 13 minutes shorter than that and there were a few glaringly obvious missing issues.

It was quite a surprise to hear Mr Miliband owning up that he had forgotten to include two vital paragraphs on the budget deficit and immigration.

In fact, before he did that, a couple of party press officers did mention that Ed Balls had adequately covered the economy just the previous day.

Virtually simultaneous release of the full text of all major conference speeches is routine these days but even that would not have been conclusive evidence of the leader's slip.

Every copy of the speech always comes with the warning that it must be "checked against delivery".

So it was a refreshing to hear Mr Miliband admit his failings.

He put it down to tiredness.

So with both Farage and Miliband's high-profile revelations that they are human too, is this a change in the way our party leaders allow themselves to be portrayed?

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