1. Ed Miliband met President Obama in the White House on Monday afternoon. It was quite intense.
The Labour leader flew to the USA especially to meet the president in order to make himself look like more of a world leader. But this was not a formal meeting, because the US president does not formally meet leaders of opposition parties.
Instead, Miliband had a meeting at the White House with national security adviser Susan Rice, and Obama just happened to “drop in”.
Except Obama had always been scheduled to drop in. It was just a matter of protocol that he couldn’t announce this as a formal meeting with Miliband.
Still following? Well done.
2. The talks, which lasted for 25 minutes, were “warm and friendly”.
3. But there’s only so much you can learn from official accounts of meetings. So this is what a detailed analysis of one picture of the meeting really tells us about the relationship between Miliband and Obama.
4. Miliband is maintaining some serious eye contact.
Keep your eye on the ball, keep your eye on the ball, keep it there.
5. Obama is seriously relaxed.
Hands out in front, world at his feet.
6. So relaxed he’s practically horizontal in his chair.
This is the most slouching observed in a US president since Teddy Roosevelt fell out of his chair while trying to shoot a passing bison in 1878.
7. He’s willing to play ball with the potential future prime minister.
8. But he remains focused on the key issues.
9. On the other side of the table, Lord Wood of Anfield, Miliband’s policy adviser, has brought a House of Commons plastic bag to the meeting.
It makes sense. The House of Commons gift shop sells a range of eggcups in the shape of former prime ministers and some reasonably priced bottles of port that carry the portcullis logo, although we recommend the branded chocolates if you want an affordable parliamentary present.
All of these gifts really impress Americans, who are largely convinced Britain exists in some Game of Thrones quasi-medieval bloodthirsty state, that Harry Potter is prime minister, and that we spend our lives morris-dancing in front of the Queen in return for tuppence.
UPDATE: Turns out Miliband gave the US president a selection of DVDs.
10. Meanwhile, Tim Livesey, Miliband’s chief of staff, is absolutely terrified of catching his own reflection in the incredibly polished table.
This White House table is so shiny that no man has ever survived staring at himself in it.
*must* *not* *look* *down*
11. Susan Rice, whom Miliband is nominally here to meet, is wondering why she had to be used to facilitate Obama “dropping in”.
Body language: “Hmmm.”
12. Douglas Alexander, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, is obscured by Ed and reduced to a symbolic clasped hand.
13. Meanwhile, this man is just finishing his crossword.
“Band of brother, easily confused” (5,8)
14. And Miliband takes this all in, while looking very intense.
15. And statesmanlike.
16. And ready for a shot at that top job.