One of Ed Miliband's close advisers launched her campaign to become Labour's candidate for a highly marginal seat this week. Polly Billington is a former BBC journalist who's been working for Ed Milband as his communications adviser since at least the summer of 2010. This week she took two months off from Team Miliband to campaign in Thurrock, where Tory MP Jackie Doyle-Price has a majority of 92.
The question is whether Polly Billington is just trying to find an escape from Team Miliband. Spotted at Labour's conference looking glum after her boss's poorly-received speech, HuffPost UK isn't alone in wondering whether Polly's trying to find a form of dignified desertion.
"I think it speaks volumes about her faith in the team, that she's taking two months off just to get selected," said a source close to the Miliband operation.
As one Thurrock-based blogger points out, Polly Billington's got some competition if she's to become Labour's candidate in Thurrock, with plenty of other women in the frame. Whoever gets the seat will be guaranteed plenty of support from Labour high command. If Labour can't win in Thurrock, it's hard to see the party having more seats than the Tories next time.
Jackie Doyle-Price seemed unfazed by the latest high-profile candidate to come sniffing around her seat. "It doesn't matter who Labour field as their candidate," she said. "To win, Ed Miliband needs to convince the people that he is a leader and that Labour are fit to govern. I don't see any sign of that happening."