Miliband: Parents’ Flight From Nazis Taught Me Politics Matter

Ed Miliband, leader of the U.K.’s opposition Labour Party, said this week’s Holocaust memorials were a reminder of why politics matters.

Speaking to journalists at the annual Westminster Correspondents Dinner in the House of Commons in London late Thursday, Miliband said a visit last year to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust commemoration center in Jerusalem, allowed him to learn about how his own grandfather had died.

Miliband’s father fled from the Nazis to Britain and his Jewish mother arrived as a refugee from Poland after World War II.

“The Holocaust shaped the outlook of my family -- if you grew up like my mum and dad did with these experiences, how could you think anything other than that politics really mattered?” Miliband said. “For them it was a matter of life and death and they taught me that politics did matter and you had a duty to leave the world a better place than you found it.”

Miliband, who is often mocked by the press, preceded his remarks about the importance of politics with a series of jokes, many at his own expense. He also took aim at Express newspapers owner Richard Desmond, Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, and his old boss, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

“I model my response to what you write on the calmness, equanimity and refusal to bear grudges that marked my predecessor as leader of the Labour Party,” he said, referring to Brown, who was known for his temper.

Referring to gaffes in the last year, he said he believes there are still “yak farmers in Nepal” who haven’t see the infamous picture of him struggling to eat a bacon sandwich. He joked about the passages he forgot to deliver in his speech to last year’s Labour Party conference, when he failed to mention the budget deficit.

He said he had been for a walk on Hampstead Heath in London looking for the man who was a central motif in his conference address. “I was looking for Gareth,” he said. “I thought he might have a couple of pages of my conference speech.”

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