Now's Victoria Kennedy meets the man tipped to be the next PM
He’s not exactly standard Now material, but when we were offered Labour leader Ed Miliband‘s most intimate interview yet, we couldn’t say no.
As the man who may end up running our country, we wanted to grill him on all the important issues in his life – no, not his views on the end of the 50p tax rate but his exes, his wife’s nickname for him and, at 43, his ‘battle with the bulge’.
As we sit in the garden of the north London home he shares with wife Justine Thornton, 43, toys strewn across the overgrown grass, Ed reveals an unexpected cheeky side.
Oh, and Harry Styles, if you’re reading this, Ed‘s got a favour to ask…
ON LOOKING GOOD
Image is very important as a politician, but I have to tell you, you’re going grey…
[Mock outrage] I’m not!
Distinguished, I think you’d call it.
Are you tempted to dye it?
No, no, no.
Have you had your teeth whitened?
Do you have a beauty regime?
God no – maybe I need to read Now for tips. Of course image matters – it’d be ridiculous to say otherwise. You’re careful about the way you dress.
The key thing in this job is you want a leader and Prime Minister who’s smart enough to be on the world stage representing the country.
You don’t want to look scruffy.
Not like Boris Johnson, then?
Well, I’m not saying that. But any beauty tips you can give me…
Who buys your clothes? Justine?
She’s got enough on her plate! I try to get them but I get help from people in my office.
These jeans are Gap; I like Banana Republic; M&S is always good.
If I said to you: ‘I’m massively interested in clothes,’ I’d be telling you a lie. Maybe that’s obvious!
Has Justine ever stopped you as you’ve gone out the door and said: You can’t go out like that!’?
Definitely, on many occasions.
I think there’s quite a lot of my wardrobe that’s in the land of ‘beware, cloves of garlic around it, warding off evil spirits’.
Big jumpers, nasty corduroys…
Do you have a fitness regime?
It’s the battle of the bulge. It’s so easy to be a man in your forties and to put on weight, it really is. I try to be careful with what I eat – I don’t eat lots of desserts and bread with my meal.
I see my personal trainer a couple of times a week – he gets me running. There are unflattering pictures to show for it.
It’s been said you look like Wallace from Wallace & Gromit…
[Laughs] Very complimentary! You develop a thick skin when you do this job. My family’s the most important thing to me, not politics.
But I think being compared to Wallace is just a bit of fun.
ON HIS EXES
Did you have many girlfriends when you were young?
Not really, I was a late developer.
Not like Nick Clegg, who said he’d slept with no more than 30 women’ before he met his wife?
I’m not going to compare myself to Nick Clegg in any way. I was quite square and serious. Girls came a bit later – university and after.
So your first girlfriend wasn’t until university?
You and shadow chancellor Ed Balls have both dated BBC economics editor Stephanie Flanders – is it weird that you’ve shared a girlfriend?
We did both date her but there was a long time apart between me and Ed. Stephanie and I don’t have any problems running into each other now.
People say your brother David’s hotter than you – how do you feel about that?
I think my wife thinks I’m hotter. If she didn’t I’d be worried!
ON FALLING IN LOVE
How did you first meet Justine?
We met at a friend’s dinner. I was with someone else at the time but I knew there was something very special about Justine. We stayed in touch as friends.
A year later, I’d split from my girlfriend and was trying to get selected for my seat [as MP for Doncaster North] and she came up from London to help.
Ah, to ‘help’!
She was helping put out chairs for a campaign meeting and these ladies there were saying: ‘You don’t come out all this way just to put out chairs, love!’
Quite quickly I got to the point where I thought: ‘I can’t imagine my life without Justine.’
I really feel so lucky. She’s so much the rock of my life. It sounds a bit corny, but I wouldn’t be doing this job and I wouldn’t be happy without her.
David Cameron and his wife Samantha say they go on date nights’ once a week – do you?
We don’t call it that.
Saturday nights we try to go out, or stay in and watch a DVD box set – we loved The Killing and Spiral –Broadchurch is next.
What annoys her about you?
I’m sure she has a long list. We went to the cinema on Saturday night and she bought popcorn. I said: ‘I don’t want any,’ then I tried to eat half of hers. Also, reading my BlackBerry at dinner.
She’ll say ‘Pleeease! We’re trying to eat.’ I think it was Justine‘s idea to stop taking my phone on holiday.
We have her phone and it means people are less likely to ring.
Do you pull your weight around the house?
No, I think she probably does more than her fair share.
I try to do my bit. This weekend I took the kids to a party so she could have a break. It was all going well ’til my two-year-old peed on the bouncy castle!
Do you have nicknames for each other?
We call each other ‘sweetie’.
What’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done for Justine?
Um… I’m not as romantic as I should be. I’ve bought her flowers but I’m not sure that counts.
Most memorable day of your life?
My wedding day – but also the birth of my two kids. Did I cut the umbilical cord? No! Do people do that? It wasn’t offered to me. Wow!
Blondes or brunettes?
Brunettes. I’d be in trouble if I didn’t say that.
What’s your greatest fear?
My kids or Justine getting ill. She rides a bike and says she’s careful, but…
M&S pants or designer undies?
Oh, definitely M&S.
Sum yourself up in three words:
Decent, principled and loving.
Do I watch it?
Have you ever met Jordan?
Obviously I know who she is, but I don’t know enough to offer an opinion.
Is she with Peter Andre?
Any One Direction on your iPod?
No, but was it Harry Styles who gave his support to Labour?
Very good. Jill in my office is a big fan, so I must get them introduced.
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