Miliband's year of empathy

By Marcus Dysch, July 31, 2014

An international autism expert has shed light on his efforts to help Ed Miliband understand empathy.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen said he had been working with the Labour leader for more than a year.

In a keynote speech last week, Mr Miliband said empathy was one of the most under-rated virtues in politics.

Prof Baron-Cohen, a fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge and director of the city's Autism Research Centre was asked to help Mr Miliband a year ago, before Labour's party conference.

"I met him at his home with his wife and kids," he said. "We talked about how you can use the idea of empathy in so many different areas of society, and politics.

"Things like the NHS, improving education, and also internationally, how Britain intervenes in conflicts. Ed thinks out of the box. I'm not sure where it's going to lead. I'm coming at it from a non-political angle."

The Labour leader's team had contacted Prof Baron-Cohen after he read one of his books on neuroscience. The cousin of comedian and actor Sacha Baron-Cohen said a growing understanding of empathy could be partly behind Mr Miliband's interest in his family history.

Last updated: 4:45pm, July 31 2014