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11 things we've learnt from the BuzzFeed interview with Ed Miliband

A list about a BuzzFeed article not written as a list.

Photo: Getty

1. Chunky fonts and black-and-white filters make a montage of giant pictures of Ed Miliband a surprising design hit.

See the remarkably good-looking interview here.
 

2. He won't read this article.

Ed Miliband told BuzzFeed:

It’s always a good idea not to read the newspapers... I don’t read much British news. You get a lot of advice in the newspapers about what you should do. It’s much more important to follow your own path and stick to your own path. I’ve made that a rule in the last three and a half years.

3. He relies on his aides and a US news aggregator for keeping up with current affairs.

The interview reveals:

... he really means the part about ignoring the news. There are no TV screens showing rolling news channels in his office and he has no newspapers delivered to his home. Instead he relies on aides to summarise what’s going on in the world.

Miliband, wearing a red tie and with his BlackBerry on the table, says his favourite news website is RealClearPolitics, an American site that aggregates political news stories, where he keeps up with what he sees as a new global politics of inequality. 

4. He's wary of Twitter.

The Labour leader admits to a  “decidedly mixed record” on the social media site. In January 2012, he tweeted about the death of Bob Holness, the host of Blockbusters, but misspelt the programme's name in an embarrassing gaffe as "Blackbusters".
 

5. He says people think he's "weird" because he's on track to becoming PM.

The press people who don’t like us have been saying that [I'm weird] for some time. It comes with the territory. I think the heart of this is people think we are in a position to win the election and there are some people who don’t want us to win this election.

6.  He's trying to tackle the Ukip problem by saying he understands their supporters.

The vast, vast majority of people who voted UKIP are concerned for understandable reasons. It’s not about prejudice. It’s about genuine concern about the country having changed.

7. He's tentatively talking about immigration.

 The interview reports that he insists his party must move away from the idea that "if you’re concerned about immigration you’re prejudiced".
 

8. He's still defending his 'cost-of-living crisis' slogan.

It's not defunct, he insists: 

Any good news in the economy is a good thing, any time things get better is a good thing,” he insists. “But as I go around the country and talk to people and they will say – I’m on a short hours contract, I can’t make ends meet, I’m worried about my son or daughter getting a house.

Even people who consider themselves relatively well off are saying where is this country going and what’s in it for me. Somewhere along the way ordinary working people who were struggling got left behind. It started before the financial crisis – or you could date this before the financial crisis. I personally think it’s got a lot worse under this government.

9. He's taking heart from what he sees as the rise of the global left.

In the US version of the interview, which describes Miliband as "an unapologetically pro-American figure", he says:

There’s massive change happening in our country: globalization and opening up of the world and that has big profound economic and social implications... Fundamentally this goes to what our campaign in 2015 and what Obama 2012 share in common: how to restore what the U.S. would call the American dream, with a strong middle class.

If you look at some of the debates in America about inequality … President Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Bill de Blasio are talking about similar things.

10. Even his own children aren't supporters...

... Of his favourite football team, Leeds United. His two sons are apparently more interested in Arsenal.
 

11. He chillaxes too.

In an echo of the PM admitting his addiction to online app game Angry Birds, he tells BuzzFeed his favourite diversion is the Major League Baseball app on his iPad.

I'm a mole, innit.

Photo: Getty
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The rise of the green mayor – Sadiq Khan and the politics of clean energy

At an event at Tate Modern, Sadiq Khan pledged to clean up London's act.

On Thursday night, deep in the bowls of Tate Modern’s turbine hall, London Mayor Sadiq Khan renewed his promise to make the capital a world leader in clean energy and air. Yet his focus was as much on people as power plants – in particular, the need for local authorities to lead where central governments will not.

Khan was there to introduce the screening of a new documentary, From the Ashes, about the demise of the American coal industry. As he noted, Britain continues to battle against the legacy of fossil fuels: “In London today we burn very little coal but we are facing new air pollution challenges brought about for different reasons." 

At a time when the world's leaders are struggling to keep international agreements on climate change afloat, what can mayors do? Khan has pledged to buy only hybrid and zero-emissions buses from next year, and is working towards London becoming a zero carbon city.

Khan has, of course, also gained heroic status for being a bête noire of climate-change-denier-in-chief Donald Trump. On the US president's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Khan quipped: “If only he had withdrawn from Twitter.” He had more favourable things to say about the former mayor of New York and climate change activist Michael Bloomberg, who Khan said hailed from “the second greatest city in the world.”

Yet behind his humour was a serious point. Local authorities are having to pick up where both countries' central governments are leaving a void – in improving our air and supporting renewable technology and jobs. Most concerning of all, perhaps, is the way that interest groups representing business are slashing away at the regulations which protect public health, and claiming it as a virtue.

In the UK, documents leaked to Greenpeace’s energy desk show that a government-backed initiative considered proposals for reducing EU rules on fire-safety on the very day of the Grenfell Tower fire. The director of this Red Tape Initiative, Nick Tyrone, told the Guardian that these proposals were rejected. Yet government attempts to water down other EU regulations, such as the energy efficiency directive, still stand.

In America, this blame-game is even more highly charged. Republicans have sworn to replace what they describe as Obama’s “war on coal” with a war on regulation. “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump announced in March. While he has vowed “to promote clean air and clear water,” he has almost simultaneously signed an order to unravel the Clean Water Rule.

This rhetoric is hurting the very people it claims to protect: miners. From the Ashes shows the many ways that the industry harms wider public health, from water contamination, to air pollution. It also makes a strong case that the American coal industry is in terminal decline, regardless of possibile interventions from government or carbon capture.

Charities like Bloomberg can only do so much to pick up the pieces. The foundation, which helped fund the film, now not only helps support job training programs in coal communities after the Trump administration pulled their funding, but in recent weeks it also promised $15m to UN efforts to tackle climate change – again to help cover Trump's withdrawal from Paris Agreement. “I'm a bit worried about how many cards we're going to have to keep adding to the end of the film”, joked Antha Williams, a Bloomberg representative at the screening, with gallows humour.

Hope also lies with local governments and mayors. The publication of the mayor’s own environment strategy is coming “soon”. Speaking in panel discussion after the film, his deputy mayor for environment and energy, Shirley Rodrigues, described the move to a cleaner future as "an inevitable transition".

Confronting the troubled legacies of our fossil fuel past will not be easy. "We have our own experiences here of our coal mining communities being devastated by the closure of their mines," said Khan. But clean air begins with clean politics; maintaining old ways at the price of health is not one any government must pay. 

'From The Ashes' will premiere on National Geograhpic in the United Kingdom at 9pm on Tuesday, June 27th.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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