‘Two kitchens’ Miliband takes on Big Six energy suppliers

It may be a storm in a teacup, but it doesn’t help Ed as he tries to regain initiative on household energy bills

The Mole

Ed Miliband is being mocked for posing for the TV cameras in a bland, functional kitchenette at his home in north London, sipping tea from a blue and white striped mug, in an effort to portray himself as a man of the people.

Why, his critics want to know, didn’t he let the BBC - who there to film the recent interview with his wife, Justine - show us instead the couple's “proper kitchen” which, it is assumed, actually has a table and chairs and perhaps something a little more stylish than a blackout blind on the window?

Sarah Vine, the Daily Mail columnist and wife of Tory chief whip Michael Gove, led the charge yesterday, comparing the décor to “Communist era” housing and saying:

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“There’s nothing here that makes me believe that he and Justine are not, in fact, aliens. No evidence of food-stuffs, certainly. Perhaps they get their nourishment from the fruits that grow only in the rarefied atmosphere of the moral high ground.

“Or perhaps they’re both just so holier than thou that they no longer require any nourishment other than the knowledge of their own righteousness. You certainly wouldn’t want to have supper there.”

Luckily, there’s one Fleet Street columnist who actually knows the Milibands – and has visited the house.

Jenni Russell of The Times tweeted: 'Ed Miliband's kitchen is lovely. Daily Mail pix: the functional kitchenette by sitting room for tea and quick snacks.'

However, this just gave Ed Miliband’s enemies more ammunition. Remember ‘Two Jags’ Prescott? Now we have ‘Two kitchens’ Miliband.

The Daily Telegraph quotes Conservative MP Nigel Adams saying: “Clearly there’s no cost of living crisis for ‘Two Kitchens’ Miliband. It’s a bit rich lecturing people about poverty from his £2 million mansion.” [Actually, £2 million-plus, according to the Daily Mail, though the terraced house can hardly be described as a mansion.]

Adams added: “Red Ed can try as much as he likes to portray himself as a man of the people but the only people he’s in touch with are the North London metropolitan elite.”

While Nick Watt in The Guardian loftily dismissed it as "a kitchen sink drama", Miliband could have done without the issue blowing up just as he launches his latest initiative today – a pledge to cut average household fuel bills by about £100, or ten per cent a year, if he wins power.

He is promising emergency legislation to give Ofgen, the energy regulator, the power to cut bills of the Big Six power generators if they are excessive.

It is an attempt to revive the appeal of Miliband’s promise at last year’s party conference to freeze fuel prices �� a policy which appeared to be a game-changer until fuel prices started to fall.

It’s also designed to warm the hearts of the Labour faithful turning up for their spring conference this weekend in Birmingham - however many kitchens they may have.

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is the pseudonym for a London-based political consultant who writes exclusively for The Week.co.uk.