Ed Miliband talks exclusively to Classic FM: ‘I think we undervalue artistic subjects’

29 April 2015, 00:01 | Updated: 16 June 2015, 14:27

The leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, has spoken to Classic FM’s Nick Ferrari about the importance of music education and his own struggle to learn the violin.

Listen again to this interview >

Ed Miliband told Nick Ferrari that music education is “something that needs to be valued” and can be “an incredible liberation” for many children.

“I think there’s a danger that in education at the moment we undervalue these kind of creative subjects. I think we undervalue artistic subjects. Music, for example can be an incredible liberation for lots of kids and it can bring out extraordinary talent. It is an important thing and it is something that needs to be valued.”

Miliband learned to play the violin with the Suzuki method – but he was “terrible”

“For four years I schlepped away playing the violin and then at the age of 11 I said to my mum, ‘I'm really fed up with playing the violin and I'm not really very good at it – why are you forcing me to do it?’ And she said, ‘I don’t want you to be playing the violin, I don’t think you're very good at the violin either, I thought it was because you wanted to do it,’ at which point I promptly gave it up. I don’t think I had any natural talent but I don’t think I practised very much, that’s my excuse.”

Miliband used to secretly watch Dallas rather than do his homework

“I used to sneak off and watch Dallas and I remember my dad used to come down the stairs and I used to turn the telly off and sneak back in to my room, pretending I was doing my homework, not watching JR and Sue Ellen. So I suppose that was like my limited form of [rebellion].”

Miliband has confessed that the Labour Party leadership contest between Ed and his brother David was “bruising” for the family

Ed Miliband said his brother had been “very supportive” in the run-up to the election. “He’s been sending me messages; we’ve been talking during the campaign. He’s sort of moved on, he’s got his job running a refugee organisation in New York; it was definitely bruising, the leadership campaign.”

When Nick Ferrari asked whether his mum had found it tough, Miliband said she'd probably been through tougher things.

"She was in hiding in Poland during the Second World War, she was in a convent, you know, she was just extraordinary. So I think she never says this to me, but my intuition is that she sort of has gone through some tougher things, even tougher things than her two boys standing for leader of the Labour Party.”

Miliband told Nick Ferrari what he would have said in a final conversation with his dad, who died when Miliband was 24

“When I was 21 he had this heart bypass operation and he was in intensive care for weeks and it sort of didn’t go well. He was then quite frail.”

Miliband didn’t have chance to have a final conversation with his dad but, he told Nick Ferrari, he would have said “How much I loved him, what a great dad he’d been, yes and how much I would miss him, you know.”

He’s grown used to the media’s more personal attacks – with one exception

“I think the alternative is worse, which is not a free press. And I can answer back in the extreme cases – the Daily Mail, saying my dad hated Britain. My Dad loved Britain.

“I remember that day actually, it was after the Labour Party Conference and one of the people who works for me rang me up and said, ‘Look I think you should see what the Mail is saying because it’s getting quite a lot of attention’. I was actually with my mum and she thought it was awful, and so far from the truth.

“You know, it’s interesting when we used to go on holiday, he much preferred getting home rather than being on holiday. It’s the classic refugee thing I think.”

He’s happy to be “a square”

“I was pretty sort of square – geeky, verging on the nerdy.… I’ll tell you the white trousers story, it wasn’t so much that I liked to wear white trousers, it’s that I was asked what I wore at the school disco when I was 16 or 17 and I said it was a particularly bad pair of white trousers and purple jumper.”

Miliband's music choices for the interview

The leader of the Labour Party chose three of the pieces for the broadcast:

Hubert Parry's 'Jerusalem'

Beethoven's Symphony No.9

Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No.3

Nick Ferrari has also interviewed David Cameron and Nick Clegg and those programmes are available to hear on our Listen Again service