Rebecca Tyrrel: Stephanie and the two Labour Eds would not make for a happy ménage à trois


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The Independent Online

Who knew that the economics editor of the BBC is so well connected that if anything happened to Kevin Bacon, the dinner-party game could be remodelled as Six Degrees of Stephanie Flanders? Stephanie's stellar achievement in the sphere of unlikely inter-connection already dwarfs anything managed by Bacon.

Politics may or may not be showbiz for ugly people, but thanks to Stephanie, the two leading pin-ups, both named Ed, of the Labour front bench, both of whom she once dated (though hopefully not simultaneously; it would not have been a happy ménage à trois) are only two degrees from FHM magazine's 'world's hottest woman' for 2009.

With the actress Olivia Wilde, Stephanie shares a grandfather in the late form of the great Anglo-Irish left-wing journalist Claud Cockburn. Since Wilde recently starred with Daniel Craig in the sci-fi western Cowboys and Aliens, and previously played Dr Remy '13' Hadley in House, this also makes those Eds Miliband and Balls three degrees from 007 and just four from Stephen Fry.

Probably less good news for Ed M and Ed B is that they are also linked to the Chancellor of the Exchequer via Stephanie, whose rich vault of ancestors includes Sir Thomas Osborne, the ninth baronet, and George's great-great-great… well, you'd need Steph's phenomenal grasp of figures to work that one out.

Since Stephanie's father was Michael Flanders, the comic songster, the Chancellor, Shadow Chancellor and Labour leader are also just a few degrees of separation from the gnu, which somehow seems more plausible than their links to Olivia Wilde and Commander Bond.

Befittingly for such a cerebral presence, Stephanie is coy to the point of brusqueness whenever asked about her relationships with the Butch and Sundance of Labour. Nor has she ever spoken about the cousinhood with Wilde, so whether the two have met is not known.

Also unclear is whether she is related to Homer Simpson's godly neighbour Ned Flanders, though considering that she is connected to every other well-known character in the western world, the odds must be that she spends her holidays in Springfield.

Hats off then to the amazingly well-connected and brilliantly clever Stephanie Flanders.