Ed Miliband hoped to come across to voters as a “happy warrior” in the TV leaders’ debate, according to speaking notes left behind in a dressing room show in an embarrassing lapse by aides.
The phrase - originally from a Wordsworth poem but often used by US politicians including Barack Obama - was among the motivational messages and prepared answers to likely questions published by The Sun on Sunday.
Other reminders for the Labour leader’s only chance to take on David Cameron directly during the campaign included turning negative comments into positive messages, remaining “calm ... never agitated”, to “relish the chance to show who I am” and talk to the camera to “use the people at home”.
Among the notes were several ripostes that he deployed during the two-hour clash between seven party leaders, such as urging voters to “use their vote as a weapon to fight for the NHS, by kicking David Cameron out of Downing Street” when challenged over wanting to “weaponise” the health service.
In a section where he appears to set down his differences with the PM are the words “decency, principle, values”.
Tories were quick to take the chance to mock the Opposition leader, deputy chief whip Greg Hands quipping: “Am not at all surprised that The Sun has Miliband’s debate notes. It was obvious that Ed didn’t have them.”
One prominent Labour activist, Mark Ferguson of the LabourList website, said it was “pretty unforgivable” for someone to have allowed the notes to be left behind - but insisted some of the contents could be seen as “endearing”.
A party spokesman said: “These notes will come as no surprise to anybody who saw the debate.
“They explain why and how Ed took on David Cameron over the NHS and living standards. They also show how Ed set out a positive vision for the future with Labour’s better plan, including on zero-hours contracts, lower tuition fees and rents.”
Written in 1806 and inspired by the death of Nelson, Wordsworth’s Character Of The Happy Warrior has been cited by politicians for decades - most recently by Mr Obama to describe vice president Joe Biden after they were re-elected to the White House in 2012.
It was also used by Mr Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina - who has been advising the Tories 2015.