Former Labour leader says he got help before and after 2015 election defeat, but has no regrets about taking on job
Ed Miliband has opened up about receiving therapy while working in frontline politics, saying he sought help “both before and after” his 2015 election defeat to former prime minister David Cameron.
Mr Miliband led the Labour Party from 2010 until 2015, when he resigned after losing out to the then Conservative Party leader.
The Doncaster North MP spent several years on the backbenches before being appointed to Labour’s shadow cabinet in April 2020, taking up the business brief under new party leader Keir Starmer.
Returning to frontline politics, Mr Miliband said, reminded him of the pressures associated with serving as the opposition leader.
He singled out an infamous picture of him awkwardly eating a bacon sandwich during the 2015 campaign, which was published by news outlets opposed to his politics, as an example of the scrutiny faced by political leaders.
“That’s why going back into the frontline is quite anxiety-making because the experience of last time was like I ate a sandwich in a particular way etc, etc, etc,” Mr Miliband said in an episode of the Table Manners podcast, published on Wednesday.
He said there are “definitely sacrifices” made when taking on a high profile role, adding that he found the intrusion into his family life particularly difficult.
When asked if he felt relieved that he lost the 2015 election, Mr Miliband said: “I definitely felt, ‘At least I’m no longer a target’, but overwhelmingly, obviously, I wish I’d won.
“Oddly enough, the stress at the time – I just felt it was part of the job and it’s only looking back on it it almost feels more stressful in retrospect than it felt at the time.”
He added: “Once you’re in it you’ve got to do it. You think, ‘Well, nobody forced me to do this, I wanted to do it, I know the reason I’m doing it, the cause is what’s driving me forward to make the country fair and I think I can do a better job than Cameron’.
“That’s what drove me forward and it’s when you then think back on it you think, ‘Oh, God’.”
Despite all the stress associated with the job, Mr Miliband, who said his health improved after resigning, had no regrets about taking on the leadership job.
“I wanted to do it and I felt I had something distinctive and important to say and that is a unique privilege to have done it, and I wouldn’t wish I hadn’t done it.”
He added: “But it definitely takes its toll and also there is something about being part of a team working for sort of a common goal which is quite unique, and you get a chance to talk to the country about where the country is, how things need to change – that is a big thing.
“I don’t regret doing it.”