Ed Miliband criticised over '£70-a-week' shopping bill

Good Morning Britain presenter Susannah Reid says Miliband himself appeared 'out of touch with reality'

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The Independent Online

The Labour leader Ed Miliband has been accused of being “out of touch with reality” after he appeared not to know what he – or indeed the average British family – pays for their weekly shop.

Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Miliband described how disconnected the country’s leadership is from ordinary people who, he said, feel Britain is run “for a few people at the top and not for them”.

He said that Labour would make it a priority to tackle the cost-of-living crisis – yet appeared to struggle when pressed on how much he personally knows about “the actual cost of living for people”.

Asked if he knew what the average household grocery bill per week was for a family in the UK, Mr Miliband said: “Well, it depends how much you’re spending.”

And on the subject of his own weekly shop, the party leader hesitated before saying: “We probably spend £70, £80 a week on groceries at least, probably more than that.”

TV presenter Susannah Reid told him that the average bill for a family of four is actually more than £100, and said: “People will say one of the problems with politicians is they are actually talking about something but out of touch with the reality – and the reality is that it’s much higher than you have quoted.”

Mr Miliband then conceded that he did “probably pay more”, but added: “I am relatively comfortably off, but what I know is that there are deep issues that need to be tackled and we are determined to tackle them.”

Yet after appearing to admit that his estimate had been wrong, in a radio appearance later this morning he said he had actually been referring just to “basic groceries”.

Speaking on BBC Radio Oxford, Mr Miliband said: “Well, I said this morning it was on the basic groceries, the basic fruit and vegetables, about £70 or £80 - the total shopping bill was slightly higher than that, obviously.

“On the basics, I was saying it was about £70 or £80 but the overall shopping bill would obviously be higher.”

The comments were met with anger on Twitter, with one user asking: “Are you out of touch with the cost of living or just a sexist hubby who doesn’t shop @Ed_Miliband??”

A Conservative source said: “It's the same old economic incompetence from the Labour Party that gave Britain the biggest peacetime deficit in history.

Read more: Four in 10 voters think Ed Miliband is 'weird'

“They have no long-term plan to fix the economy and Ed Miliband can't even get the numbers right for his political gimmicks.”

At the same time as many users of social media were criticising Mr Miliband for his TV appearance, a clip of the leader “looking natural” on the show also started to go viral.

It isn’t the first time a politician has been caught out when it comes to knowing the cost of everyday items, however.

In 2012, the Tory backbencher Nadine Dorries criticised her own leadership when she described David Cameron and George Osborne as “two posh boys who don't know the price of milk”.

Last year, Mr Cameron said in a live interview that a loaf of budget supermarket bread cost “well north of a pound” – when at the time it was around 47p.

Nick Clegg was also accused of being out of touch shortly after being elected Liberal Democrat leader when he was wrong about the amount paid out for a state pension.

Challenged by a caller to a local ITV news show about how much pensioners received, the Lib Dem leader said he thought it was “about £30”. At the time the figure was £90.70 a week for a single person and £145.05 a week for a couple.