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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.

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What David Hockney has to tell us about football

Why the sudden glut of blond footballers? A conversation I had with the artist back in 1966 gave me a clue. . .

In 1966, I went to interview David Hockney at a rather run-down flat in Bayswater, central London. He was 28 and had just won a gold medal at the Royal College of Art.

In his lavatory, I noticed a cut-out photograph from a newspaper of Denis Law scoring a goal. I asked if he was a football fan. He said no, he just liked Denis Law’s thighs.

The sub-editors cut that remark out of the story, to save any gossip or legal problems. In 1966 homosexual activity could still be an offence.

Hockney and a friend had recently been in the United States and had been watching an advert on TV that said “Blondes have more fun”. At two o’clock in the morning, slightly drunk, they both went out, bought some hair dye and became blond. Hockney decided to remain blond from then on, though he has naturally dark hair.

Is it true that blonds have more fun? Lionel Messi presumably thinks so, otherwise why has he greeted this brand-new season with that weird blond hair? We look at his face, his figure, his posture and we know it’s him – then we blink, thinking what the heck, does he realise some joker has been pouring stuff on his head?

He has always been such a staid, old-fashioned-looking lad, never messing around with his hair till now. Neymar, beside him, has gone even blonder, but somehow we expect it of him. He had foony hair even before he left Brazil.

Over here, blonds are popping up all over the shop. Most teams now have a born-again blondie. It must take a fortune for Marouane Fellaini of Man United to brighten up his hair, as he has so much. But it’s already fading. Cheapskate.

Mesut Özil of Arsenal held back, not going the full head, just bits of it, which I suspect is a clue to his wavering, hesitant personality. His colleague Aaron Ramsey has almost the full blond monty. Paul Pogba of Man United has a sort of blond streak, more like a marker pen than a makeover. His colleague Phil Jones has appeared blond, but he seems to have disappeared from the team sheet. Samir Nasri of Man City went startlingly blond, but is on loan to Seville, so we’re not able to enjoy his locks. And Didier Ndong of Sunderland is a striking blond, thanks to gallons of bleach.

Remember the Romanians in the 1998 World Cup? They suddenly appeared blond, every one of them. God, that was brilliant. One of my all-time best World Cup moments, and I was at Wembley in 1966.

So, why do they do it? Well, Hockney was right, in a sense. Not to have more fun – meaning more sex – because top footballers are more than well supplied, but because their normal working lives are on the whole devoid of fun.

They can’t stuff their faces with fast food, drink themselves stupid, stay up all night, take a few silly pills – which is what many of our healthy 25-year-old lads consider a reasonably fun evening. Nor can they spend all their millions on fun hols, such as skiing in the winter, a safari in the spring, or hang-gliding at the weekend. Prem players have to be so boringly sensible these days, or their foreign managers will be screaming at them in their funny foreign accents.

While not on the pitch, or training, which takes up only a few hours a day, the boredom is appalling, endlessly on planes or coaches or in some hotel that could be anywhere.

The only bright spot in the long days is to look in the mirror and think: “Hmm, I wonder what highlights would look like? I’ve done the beard and the tattoos. Now let’s go for blond. Wow, gorgeous.”

They influence each other, being simple souls, so when one dyes his hair, depending on where he is in the macho pecking order, others follow. They put in the day by looking at themselves. Harmless fun. Bless ’em.

But I expect all the faux blonds to have gone by Christmas. Along with Mourinho. I said that to myself the moment he arrived in Manchester, smirking away. Pep will see him off. OK then, let’s say Easter at the latest . . . 

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 22 September 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The New Times