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Labour 'wanted to recruit Robinson'

Published 31/05/2015

Nick Robinson - pictured with Ed Miliband - has told how he declined a Labour job offer
Nick Robinson - pictured with Ed Miliband - has told how he declined a Labour job offer

BBC political editor Nick Robinson has described how Labour tried to recruit him to be Ed Miliband's spin doctor in the run-up to the general election.

The broadcaster said he was approached by "a senior Labour figure" 10 months before the election with the promise of a job afterwards in No 10 if the party was successful in its bid for power.

However he brushed off the offer, saying he remained "committed to journalism".

Details of the approach are revealed by Mr Robinson - who recently underwent treatment for cancer - in his latest book serialised in The Mail on Sunday.

The approach was particularly surprising as he is widely known to have been involved in Conservative politics in his student days - although he is now generally respected for his impartial reporting.

Mr Robinson describes how on "a rather bad mobile line" he was told by the senior Labour figure: "The party knows it has a problem and is determined to fix it. The leader needs advice, and it has to come from someone with sufficient stature to ensure he'll listen to it."

He said that at first he thought he was being asked if he could recommend someone to take charge of Mr Miliband's "presentational difficulties".

"I began to rack my brains until it began to dawn on me that I had misheard. I was being asked whether I would consider taking on the job of spin doctor, with a role at No 10 to follow, naturally. That's right - me," he wrote.

"For the rest of the conversation I had to resist the urge to roar with laughter and inquire whether the caller had got the wrong number.

"Instead, I politely expressed my thanks for being considered and explained I remained committed to journalism (just as I did when the papers reported a long time ago that I'd been approached to work for 'the other side'.)"

Mr Robinson said he had no idea whether the approach had been made with Mr Miliband's knowledge or - as he thought was more likely - by "someone freelancing to try to be helpful".

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