Keir Starmer has revealed he once lived above a brothel as he appeared on Desert Island Discs – choosing tracks by Stormzy, Beethoven, and football anthem Three Lions.
The Labour leader, 58, gave an insight into his younger days as he become the latest senior politician to brave the Radio 4 show.
He said he had a flat above a massage parlour that ‘kept interesting hours’ when he first moved to London. And he spoke about his difficult childhood, admitting he was not close to his father and the family struggled to cope with his mother’s debilitating illness.
Despite picking a very eclectic range of songs and a football as his luxury item if he was cast away, Sir Keir flatly denied that spin doctors had helped him draw up the list.
‘These are entirely my own choices. If you run into anybody I’ve known for a long time, they will tell you this is the genuine Keir Starmer list,’ he insisted.
Sir Keir (pictured distributing food parcels at South Hampstead Synagogue today) gave an insight into his younger days as he become the latest senior politician to brave the Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs
Sir Keir chose football anthem Three Lions as one of his tracks. He is pictured having a kick around on a visit to Walsall in September
Keir Starmer’s Desert Island Discs
Dobie Gray – Out On the Floor
Ludwig van Beethoven – Symphony No. 6 in F major, op. 68 ‘Pastoral’ (5th) Movement
Jim Reeves – Welcome to My World
Orange Juice – Falling and Laughing
Edwin Hawkins Singers – Oh Happy Day
Baddiel, Skinner & The Lightning Seeds – Three Lions
Ludwig van Beethoven – Piano Concerto No.5, 2nd movement, Adagio un pocco mosso
Artists for Grenfell – Bridge Over Troubled Water
Luxury item – A football
Desert Island Discs is known as a tricky balancing act for senior politicians.
Previous Labour leader Ed Miliband was accused of letting spin doctors choose his songs, after opting for middle of the road chart classics.
Sir Keir, who was Director of Public Prosecutions before entering politics, chose Dobie Gray’s Out On The Floor as one of the records he would take with him if he was cast away.
Sir Keir said: ‘I love Northern Soul. This reminds me, when I’m on my island, of my, sort of, early days in London with a group of friends in a really grotty flat above a sauna and massage parlour that kept interesting hours.
‘It evokes a particular era of my life.’
Plumping for Three Lions by David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and the Lightning Seeds, Sir Keir – an Arsenal fan – enthused about his love for football.
‘In order to really appreciate this song you had to be in Wembley in the crowd – I was in the upper tier – for the semi-final of Euro 96 when we’re playing Germany and for the whole stadium to be jumping up and down, rocking to this,’ he said.
Sir Keir said he would take a football as his luxury item if stranded on a desert island.
He also picked a cover of Bridge Over Troubled Water featuring grime artist Stormzy, who was a vocal backer Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
He said the song was ‘a reminder about what politics is really about’. He adds: ‘I chose Stormzy because my children love Stormzy and so it will remind me of my children.’
Another of the songs chosen by Sir Keir was Jim Reeves’ Welcome To My World, which was his mother’s favourite song.
The Labour leader told how his mother Josephine suffered from Still’s Disease, a debilitating autoimmune condition that eventually robbed her of speech and movement.
Sir Keir also picked a cover of Bridge Over Troubled Water featuring grime artist Stormzy, who was a vocal backer Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership (pictured together in 2017)
He revealed he regretted not being very close to his father, who he stressed was ‘devoted’ to his mother.
Sir Keir said: ‘I don’t often talk about my dad. He was a difficult man, a complicated man. He kept himself to himself. He didn’t particularly like to socialise, so he wouldn’t really go out very much.
‘But he was incredibly hard working. He worked as a tool maker on a factory floor all of his life.
‘Also, he had this utter commitment and devotion to my mum. My mum was very, very ill all of her life and my dad knew exactly the symptoms of everything that might possibly go wrong with my mum.
‘He stopped drinking completely just in case he ever needed to go to the hospital with her.
‘I wouldn’t say we were close. I understood who he was, and what he was. But we weren’t close. And, I regret that.’
Sir Keir added: ‘As young children we spent a lot of time in and out of high dependency units with my mum thinking we were going to lose her.
‘I remember one occasion when I was about 13 or 14, my dad phoning me from the hospital and saying ‘I don’t think mum’s going to make it, will you tell the others?’
‘And that was tough. That was really tough. So we pulled through that as a family.’