We Talked To The Teens Who Still Love Ed Miliband
Nearly two years after losing a general election, the former Labour leader still regularly gets stopped in the street by teenagers wanting to take pictures and videos with him. Why?
Over the past year or so, a particular kind of tweet has been cropping up with every now and then, and going viral each time. It normally involves one or several teenagers, a selfie or a video, and the former Labour leader Ed Miliband.
While Miliband is now on the back benches after losing the general election in 2015, he is beloved for his "sassy" Twitter presence, which shows a side of him perhaps not seen while he was leader of the opposition.
Beyond that, Miliband has also delighted young people by bumping into them across London and posing for pictures.
One of them was 18-year-old Patrick, who met Miliband in March. "I was with a group of friends passing through Charing Cross tube station celebrating my 18th birthday," he told BuzzFeed News. "One of my friends shouted that they had just seen Ed Miliband and then we all ran over to him on the platform.
"Ed and his wife Justine looked very surprised to see all of us but they were really friendly and happily took lots of selfies with us. There must have been about 30 people in total taking photos with Ed and chatting to him."
A bystander filmed Patrick and his friends cheerfully accosting Miliband and his wife, and sent it on Twitter to Westminster gossip account EyeSpyMP. The tweet soon received an avalanche of likes and retweets.
"I wasn't old enough to vote in 2015, but if I had the opportunity to vote for Labour I certainly would have," Patrick said.
"I believe that Ed is a breath of fresh air in a time of such great political change. That sounds so cheesy but he genuinely seems so much more down-to-earth than all of the other politicians we see today. Ed is different as he is a decent guy and is really honest, unlike many other politicians, and I think people really respect him for that.
"Ed has quite a large following amongst teenagers, but I think they are far more interested in his character than his actual politics, which is unusual for most politicians. I mean, can you imagine asking Theresa May for a selfie – how cringe would that be?"
Patrick isn't the first teenager to go viral after meeting Miliband; just over a year ago, then–18-year-old Gideon bumped into the Labour MP and filmed himself telling him that he should have been prime minister.
"I decided to do that video with Ed because I liked him – just think he's a proper genuine guy, that wanted to do a lot for working-class youths like myself, it's like he wanted to help out the 'hood', as I like to call it, because that's where myself and friends are from; the 'hood'", Gideon told BuzzFeed News a year after the picture was taken.
"After the election defeat I still wanted to show that a lot of young people still supported him. ... I also feel that enough is not done for the working class and less fortunate, which is why Ed will always be one of my favourite politicians and favourite people."
Only a few days beforehand, Miliband had bumped into – and been filmed by –another London teenager, 18-year-old Rachel.
Rachel, who said her opinion on Miliband hasn't changed, previously told BuzzFeed News: "Me and my squad started to chat to him and he was chatting back – then we all started Snapchatting with him.
"I think he was really portrayed badly by the news but I like the fact he still manages to be a really humble and nice person despite it. How many politicians do you know would be OK being surrounded by a group of excited sixth-formers? Imagine David Cameron in that situation. Actually, let's not."
Not all the teenagers who've posed with Miliband had strong opinions on politics, however; Alice, 19, posted a selfie of herself and friends with Miliband on the tube last month that also got several thousand likes and retweets.
When contacted, Alice said she was "personally not that interested in politics", but didn't comment further.
Would this unexpected craze have happened without the Milifandom, the group of teenagers who started flooding social media with positive memes about the then Labour leader on the run-up to the 2015 general election? The movement's founder thinks so.
"I think if the Milifandom hadn't happened, Ed, being how he is, would probably have become a teen idol one way or another," 19-year-old Abby Tomlinson told BuzzFeed News.
"If it hadn't been that it would have probably just been something else he said or did that warmed people to him, although maybe it was the catalyst for the initial outpouring of appreciation from teens.
"But am very glad to see that the love teens held for Ed didn't die with his leadership, and I hope his legacy as a teen idol continues because it seems so very random but is so very pure."
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Ed Miliband for comment.