Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

My Plan for Schools, by the Man Who Would Be Labour's Ed Boy; Leadership Hopeful Reveals Agenda for Power. and a Personal Insight

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

My Plan for Schools, by the Man Who Would Be Labour's Ed Boy; Leadership Hopeful Reveals Agenda for Power. and a Personal Insight

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Murphy Political editor

ED MILIBAND today pledged to review how ballots are held on keeping or closing grammar schools if he becomes Labour leader.

In an interview with the Evening Standard, he said there was "an issue" over which parents were allowed to take part in votes. His promise alarmed supporters of the remaining 164 state grammars, who said a rule change could make it easier for opponents of selective education to force their closure.

Mr Miliband said: "I think that an issue has been raised about the system of ballots for grammar schools and whether the right people get a chance to vote in the ballots. I'm not giving you a definitive answer, I'm saying it is an issue to be looked at."

He said he would send his son Daniel, 15 months, to a local state school. Asked if he felt angry with London parents who went outside the comprehensive system, he said: "I'm not angry at them but I think it would be better for our society if they felt they were able to send their kids to state schools."

While he stressed that he was not seeking to close grammars, Mr Miliband's comments will be seen as another pitch towards the Left of the Labour Party, whose members start voting for their new leader this week.

In a wide-ranging interview he also confirmed that he is an atheist and revealed for the first time that he intends to marry his long-term partner Justine, who is expecting their second baby this autumn.

"We've just not got round to it, really," admitted Mr Miliband, 40, adding: "Maybe that doesn't make me sound a very romantic person."

He went on: "It's because the bond between us is the bond we have. We thought we'd get round to it after the election but then the leadership election happened."

They met at a dinner party six years ago. He was with a previous girlfriend and their first conversation began badly.

"She thought we had a mutual friend in common who I had never heard of, so it was quite an awkward start. It wasn't until about another year before we got together. She came up and campaigned for me in Doncaster in the 2005 election -- so she must have been keen. She claimed it was research into what it was like to run a political campaign.

Well, one thing led to another ..."

He described Justine as a "very grounded person" who cares about the environment and is supportive of his career but keeps a low profile.

She will attend the party conference where the election result will be declared but, win or lose, she will not be a full-time political wife.

"What did Mrs Clegg say when asked why she wasn't on his campaign?" asked Mr Miliband. He put on a Spanish accent. "'I'm very busy.' Justine and I admired that."

His face softened when he spoke about how becoming a father had changed his priorities. …

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