Justine Thornton and Ed Miliband. Photo: Getty
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Justine Thornton's rebrand as “Mrs Miliband” shows how Ed is again torn in two

What does Justine Thornton’s decision to use her husband’s surname "in political life" tell us about her husband's approach to electoral politics?

A BBC interview with Ed Miliband's wife has been making headlines this week. But the most interesting thing about the story is not what she said, but how she referred to herself. The environment barrister known as Justine Thornton throughout this parliament is suddenly being called “Justine Miliband”.

The BBC interview refers to her using her husband’s surname, and a report on the interview in the Guardian was corrected, replacing “Thornton” with “Miliband”. Here’s the correction note:

This article was amended on 10 March 2015. The original references to Justine Thornton have been changed to reflect Labour’s statement that she wished to use the surname Miliband in political life.

Although the Labour press office tells me there was no official statement about her name, and won’t comment on what her legal name is, I hear from one spinner that “it’s Justine Miliband when it’s Labour party stuff, but in her own work it’s Thornton. She uses both names”.

Whatever Justine chooses to call herself is up to her, but this feels like Labour chasing the political benefit of rebranding her a "Miliband". As if wheeling out a soft interview with The Wife a couple of months before an election isn’t crass enough.

It also goes against Miliband's insistence that the thing he’s learned most since becoming leader is to be himself. “I am not from central casting,” he says. A rather hollow statement when he's been spooked into the old political trick of using family as campaign fodder.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

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An alternative Trainspotting script for John Humphrys’ Radio 4 “Choose Life” tribute

Born chippy.

Your mole often has Radio 4’s Today programme babbling away comfortingly in the background while emerging blinking from the burrow. So imagine its horror this morning, when the BBC decided to sully this listening experience with John Humphrys doing the “Choose Life” monologue from Trainspotting.

“I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got Radio 4?” he concluded, as a nation cringed.

Introduced as someone who has “taken issue with modernity”, Humphrys launched into the film character Renton’s iconic rant against the banality of modern life.

But Humphrys’ role as in-studio curmudgeon is neither endearing nor amusing to this mole. Often tasked with stories about modern technology and digital culture by supposedly mischievous editors, Humphrys sounds increasingly cranky and ill-informed. It doesn’t exactly make for enlightening interviews. So your mole has tampered with the script. Here’s what he should have said:

“Choose life. Choose a job and then never retire, ever. Choose a career defined by growling and scoffing. Choose crashing the pips three mornings out of five. Choose a fucking long contract. Choose interrupting your co-hosts, politicians, religious leaders and children. Choose sitting across the desk from Justin Webb at 7.20 wondering what you’re doing with your life. Choose confusion about why Thought for the Day is still a thing. Choose hogging political interviews. Choose anxiety about whether Jim Naughtie’s departure means there’s dwindling demand for grouchy old men on flagship political radio shows. Choose a staunch commitment to misunderstanding stories about video games and emoji. Choose doing those stories anyway. Choose turning on the radio and wondering why the fuck you aren’t on on a Sunday morning as well. Choose sitting on that black leather chair hosting mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows (Mastermind). Choose going over time at the end of it all, pishing your last few seconds on needlessly combative questions, nothing more than an obstacle to that day’s editors being credited. Choose your future. Choose life . . .”

I'm a mole, innit.