UK leader takes heat over two kitchens as press shout 'hypocrite'

Fri Mar 13, 2015 12:49pm EDT
 
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By Andrew Osborn

LONDON (Reuters) - British left-wing leader Ed Miliband hoped to win more votes by inviting a TV crew into his home. Instead his election rivals have gleefully seized on the revelation that the would-be "man of the people" has two kitchens in his 2 million pound home.

With around two months to go before what's expected to be an unusually close national poll, Miliband is now facing a barrage of jeers from Britain's mainly right-wing press who claim the face of the main opposition party is a hypocrite for campaigning on a promise that he understands the working class.

"Exposed: Eddie Two Kitchens," said a headline in the right-leaning Sun newspaper, owned by Rupert Murdoch, on Friday. It has long mocked the Labour leader as a socially awkward left-wing nerd.

Criticizing someone for having two kitchens may sound odd to non-Britons. But in a country still obsessed by the remnants of its class system, by house prices, and by the gap between the rich and poor, it carries a peculiar political force.

The existence of Miliband's second kitchen only came to light after the Labour leader - whose personal popularity trails that of Prime Minister David Cameron - agreed to a BBC interview with his wife Justine, who portrayed her husband as a victim of vicious media attacks.

The couple were filmed in a small plain kitchen drinking mugs of tea and wearing casual clothes.

The press initially mocked the kitchen for appearing too modest. A columnist for the Daily Mail - also the wife of a senior Conservative and close Cameron ally - said it looked like a communist housing project and showed the Milibands were "aliens".

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Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband arrives for the Afghanistan service of commemoration at St Paul's Cathedral in London March 13, 2015.   REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth