Doncaster MP Ed Miliband admits he wasn't 'bold enough' as Labour leader

Doncaster MP Ed Miliband has admitted he wasn’t ‘bold enough’ as Labour leader – and has also revealed it took him until the age of 50 to learn how to ride a bike properly.

Sunday, 23rd May 2021, 7:26 am
Ed Miliband

The Doncaster North MP makes the admissions in his new book Go Big – and how he thinks Labour can make a return to power.

He told The Guardian: “I wasn’t bold enough.

“I was bold in my analysis, but I felt at the time that I wasn’t bold in my solutions.

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"And since then, I have felt that the prescriptions didn’t meet the analysis.”

He recalls giving “a waffly answer” when one interviewer asked if his election manifesto matched the ambition of a Margaret Thatcher or a Clement Attlee. “I used to console myself with the thought: well you’re in opposition, there’s only so much you can do.”

He added: “People can often feel powerless. For totally understandable reasons, if you’re on the progressive side of politics: you see a Tory government in power; you think – I hope – I want a Labour government, but what am I going to do in the meantime? There are other points of entry to power.”

He has thrown himself into the book since stepping down as Labour leader in 2015 – and says that the party has to re-engage with communities if it wants to win back votes.

“If we’re community activists, it re-engages people,” he said. “Politics has to be about what you are doing with people in their communities, not just about what the leader is saying on telly.

“I’m not going to pretend that this is the electoral strategy for Labour, but I am raising ideas to change the country; trying to lift eyes from the smallness of politics.”

And he has also admitted he was a latecomer to cycling.

Admitting he had always been a “very, very nervous [bicycle] rider” as a child, the now 51-year-old hired an electric bike while on holiday in France and “had an epiphany”. “This”, he said, “was the eureka moment”.

“You know how most children learn to ride a bike around five or six? Well, I learned late – about 11 or 12 – and have always been a very, very nervous rider. What’s more, having learned, I left it more than three decades before doing anything more than a few minutes of uncomfortable wobbling,” he writes in his new book.

“We went through six prime ministers, drainpipe trousers, Duran Duran, the invention of the internet, email, Twitter, Facebook, the bacon sandwich incident – and still I resisted two wheels. When the first lockdown began and people were discouraged from using public transport, I had to work out how I could get to work in an environmentally friendly way.

“This led to a brief flirtation with an adult tricycle – as in I test-drove one (nervously) but somehow it didn’t seem for me. I was a bit worried about the stigma (and the photos),” he admitted.

“Then, aged 50, and in Europe’s mountain-biking capital – the French resort of Châtel – I had an epiphany: electric bikes were fun. Then back in London I started venturing out on local journeys and have now even made it to work. I now have the zeal of a convert.”