UK Politics

The David Miliband party planner

Labour leadership contender David Miliband has produced a six-page guide on how to organise a house party - including making sure you "get the nibbles in".

Other party-hosting tips for his supporters include "decide on the people you want to invite" and "invite them".

There is even a YouTube video, in which Mr Miliband welcomes the guests.

Critics on Twitter have branded the guide "patronising".

But a spokeswoman for Mr Miliband's campaign laughed off the jibes, saying: "If you want to be leader you need to know how to organise a party."

She said such guides were "totally standard" for community organisers in American politics.

"It is not a diktat. It is light-hearted. You can tell from the tone of it," she told BBC News.

'Delicious spread'

The shadow foreign secretary is attempting to emulate US President Barack Obama, who boosted his grassroots support with local meetings held in supporters' own homes.

The guide - published on Mr Miliband's campaign website - sets out in minute detail how to set up a "house meeting for David".

It advises supporters to invite people over the telephone, as "invitations are best when made personally".

It also instructs party organisers on how to go about getting Mr Miliband or one of his "high-profile supporters" to phone the house meeting personally. Alternatively, they can show guests Mr Miliband's YouTube video greeting.

"Last, but by no means least" the document goes on, "prepare food and drink for your House Meeting - perhaps ask some of the guests to bring or contribute something to the evening. No one can resist a delicious spread of food!"

'Spread the word'

There is then a suggested timetable for "the big day itself":

"5.30pm Get in from work, give the place a quick vacuum and general tidy (or not, if you're not that type). Put the oven on and get the nibbles in. If there are drinks, get them chilling. Pick some music.

"7.00pm People are arriving, take their coats, get them a drink, all that good stuff. More importantly, get them to fill in the sign-in sheet."

The timetable then explains how to steer the conversation round to Mr Miliband's leadership bid, before telling supporters to end the meeting at 9pm "with a thank you for the commitments people have made and then fill in the Pledge Form together to record your agreements and the issues you have highlighted in your community".

It adds: "Get those who have become David supporters to spread the word about his leadership campaign and find Future Leaders to be part of his Movement for Change".

Mr Miliband is not the first senior Labour figure to face ridicule over his catering instructions.

Former chief secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne issued a memo to staff in 2006, when he was a Home Office minister, entitled Working With Liam Byrne, in which he told civil servants he liked coffee when he gets to work, soup at 1230 and memos readable in 60 seconds.

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