The MP's Surgery: Ed votes for a nose job

Miliband hopes for better sleep – and speech

Ed Miliband is to have surgery to straighten out the tissue in the centre of his nose after suffering years of interrupted sleep.

Aides confirmed yesterday that he will undergo a "routine" NHS operation in June to correct a deviated septum after being diagnosed with sleep apnoea, a condition that causes sufferers to stop breathing when they are asleep and wake up suddenly.

His staff did their best yesterday to squash a rumour that the real purpose of the operation was not to improve his sleep patterns but to give him a better speaking voice.

Mr Miliband's voice has a nasal intonation that sometimes distracts from the message he is trying to put across. Yesterday, the Labour-supporting Daily Mirror reported that his aides had persuaded him to have his adenoids taken out to cure the "bunged up" sound of his voice. Mr Miliband is not the first leader of a major political party to have a problem with his voice. Winston Churchill had a struggle overcoming a stammer when he was young. Roy Jenkins, the former Labour home secretary and founder of the Social Democratic Party, was notoriously unable to pronounce the letter "r".

Margaret Thatcher had voice coaching after becoming leader of the Conservative Party because voters found her tones annoyingly shrill. A more recent Tory leader, Iain Duncan Smith, developed a frog in the throat which became a major handicap during Prime Minister's Questions. The former Tory Cabinet minister John Moore was seen as Thatcher's most likely successor until his voice gave under stress.

But Mr Miliband's friends insisted yesterday that his reasons for going into hospital in July were neither cosmetic nor political, but purely medical. The operation is expected to take him out of action for about a week. A spokesman said: "Ed Miliband has been diagnosed with sleep apnoea made worse by a deviated septum. On medical advice he is having a routine operation to correct the deviated septum at the end of July with the NHS. We do not intend to comment further."

Sleep apnoea is usually caused by an obstruction blocking the back of the throat so that air cannot reach the lungs. When breathing stops, sufferers automatically wake up so they can start breathing again, according to the Sleep Apnoea Association.

Symptoms of the condition include loud snoring, excessive sleepiness, and morning headaches. Adenotonsillectomy, or the removal of the tonsils and adenoids, is not considered to be effective as a sole treatment for adults with sleep apnoea. Soft tissue at the back of the throat would need to be removed to cure the condition. This procedure has a success rate of 65 per cent.

Sleep apnoea is thought to affect about 180,000 people in the UK, including include the comedian Billy Connolly and the author Christopher Hitchens. It becomes more common as people get older. Mr Miliband and his advisers have been worried by the Labour leader's "geekish" image, and by the nickname "Red Ed" he acquired when running against his brother, David, for the party leadership. He tried to distance himself from both by giving a display of his skill at the pool table while being interviewed by a journalist from The Sun newspaper. In the interview, published yesterday, he said that his aim was to "bring people back" to Labour.

He added: "Red Ed has died a death. It's supposed to suggest that I'm somehow outside the mainstream. But I will stand and my party will stand for the mainstream of Britain." He also admitted the previous Labour administration "lost touch" over immigration and "did not spend every pound wisely".

Finding the right tone

Max Clifford, PR consultant

I haven't even noticed that Miliband has a nasal voice. I never advise anybody to take drastic measures unless they have a serious problem. For film stars or TV stars it doesn't matter, but we tend to want our politicians to be as natural as humanly possible. I hope he is doing this because it has been giving him problems. If it's for vanity, he should be careful – if anyone wants to capitalise on this, I'm sure they will.

Judi James, behaviour expert

I can see why Ed's voice is a problem but it suggests weak leadership if you start to change your image. If you are going to get it done, you need to not tell anybody about it. His voice isn't good but then neither is George Osborne's. I would advise Miliband to get some vocal training to bring his vocal tone down, which tends to come up at critical points in his speech. Margaret Thatcher had the same treatment.

Mark Borkowski, PR expert

Unfortunately, we live in a perfectly presented world with leaders like Obama. Cameron is also good at dealing with the media and I think it is depressing because Ed Miliband is starting to blossom because he is different and not so media-perfect.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003