They have called him a geek; they called him Red Ed. They have noted his resemblance to the jug-eared hero of Wallace and Gromit. But never in his 43 years has anyone cast Ed Miliband as “Action Man” – until now.
The Labour leader took on this dramatic new persona when a woman came off her bicycle in Camden Town, north London. He did not rush to the nearest telephone box to emerge in a tight blue bodysuit and red underpants worn on the outside, but he did spring into action with admirable presence of mind.
The woman, Ella Phillips, 29, had flipped over her handlebars near Camden Town Tube station, not far from Mr Miliband’s family home in Dartmouth Park. When she opened her eyes, she thought that concussion was causing her to hallucinate, because she had a vision of a concerned-looking Ed Miliband standing over her.
But this was no mirage. The Labour leader, who hopes to be prime minister in two years, had seen the accident and rushed to her aid, whisking her to safety out of the path of oncoming traffic.
Ms Phillips, who works as an education co-ordinator for a local art gallery, told the Camden New Journal: “He mysteriously appeared out of nowhere, a bit like an action hero.
“There was a bike in front of me which suddenly stopped so I had to make an emergency brake. The back wheel flipped over, and the next thing I knew my face was hurtling towards the ground. Then there was Ed Miliband’s face looking very concerned at me. I started to wonder how badly I’d banged my head. My first thought was that I was seeing things because I was still in quite a daze. He kept asking if I was OK, if I was hurt. He was there for a good few minutes.”
Her other surprise, once acclimatised to the fact that this was Ed Miliband in person, was that he cuts a more impressive figure in the flesh than his somewhat geeky television image. She said: “What added to all the confusion was that he was actually attractive and not geeky at all. Even the way he appeared was suave. He was dressed casually but he had style. I don’t know if he was in his car and stopped it to get out, or was walking close by. But wherever he came from he disappeared just as fast. He disappeared into thin air once I was OK. I didn’t even get to thank him.”
Unlike many of the stories that show politicians in a good light, this one was neither made by him nor spread by Ed Miliband’s spin-doctors, but was passed on by Ms Phillips to a local journalist she knew. One of Mr Miliband’s aides said: “Ed does a lot of things to help people. We’re not making anything of this.”
But the Labour leader’s gallantry has paid one dividend. Ms Phillips said: “I’ll definitely be voting for him now. In fact, it worked so well I half suspected he had deliberately knocked me off my bike just to help me up again. I can just imagine people getting knocked off their bikes by politicians all over London now. You can’t deny it would be great PR, but getting found out wouldn’t be as good.”
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The Tory MP, who is a doctor, saved a colleague’s life when he spotted that Guy Opperman’s “blinding headache” was something serious, and insisted he go to hospital, where he had an emergency op for a brain tumour.
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Early in his career as an MP, the current Attorney General made headlines by giving chase to a vandal who had damaged a London bus shelter.
The MP was stuck in a traffic jam in 1997 when a thief yanked open her car door to steal her handbag. She gave chase through the traffic.