Former Labour leader Ed Miliband visits Newham Collegiate

Ed Miliband addressing students at Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Centre

Ed Miliband addressing students at Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Centre - Credit: Ian Miller

How does a party leader deal with losing a general election?

Ed Miliband, centre, with staff and students

Ed Miliband, centre, with staff and students - Credit: Ian Miller

That was just one of the topics former Labour leader Ed Miliband spoke about during a visit to Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Centre.

Following a speech about his career and interest in politics, he fielded questions from the students on topics including how to engage young people, the state of the NHS and Barack Obama’s intervention on the upcoming EU referendum.

Mr Miliband, who spent five years as leader of the opposition before stepping down last summer, said: “My one piece of advice would be follow your dreams.

“Follow your ambitions, follow your dreams and don’t let people say that because you didn’t go to a private school, because of the background that you’ve come from that you can’t achieve them.”

He offered praise for the Barking Road, East Ham, sixth form, adding: “One of the great things about this school from my experience of it is that it’s encouraging high ambition and for nobody to stand in your way and I think that’s really important.”

During the hour-long session on Monday, Mr Miliband stressed the importance of change and how anyone in the room could deliver it.

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He also emphasised how politics affected every aspect of daily life, saying: “I just think there’s no issue that affects you that isn’t relevant to politics.”

He added: “Politics is frustrating, it’s difficult. Change is hard.

“I know from having lost the general election that there are big setbacks along the way.

“But don’t let that put you off. If you care about your community, your country and your world then I think in the end there are all kinds of ways in which you can go about changing things, but politics is incredibly important.”

The visit was part of the sixth form’s lecture programme, where guest speakers are invited in to share their experiences with students.