What do the leaders do in their free time?

Peter Robinson, Leanne Wood, Nigel Farage, Nick Clegg, David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nicola Sturgeon, Natalie Bennett, Gerry Adams Image copyright Getty Images

With an election coming, the party leaders make efforts to show themselves as real people. So what do we know about their passions away from politics?

Most interviews at election time are dominated by the major issues - the economy, the NHS, benefits, education, immigration, housing, Europe, crime, foreign policy. But we also get to find out a great deal of the minutiae of their non-political lives and their recreational habits.


David Cameron felt the wrath of Twitter after saying he supported West Ham in a speech last month, even though he apparently supports Aston Villa. He put the slip-up down to "brain fade". The Conservative leader is also an advocate of cycling, is often seen jogging and likes darts. His favourite sport is tennis and he says he has beaten Nick Clegg twice - "[he] has got very good style. He's a very polished player. And I think I've been lucky to win". Cameron revealed he was once dumped immediately after a game of tennis with a girlfriend in Frinton.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Cameron, pictured in 2005, is an Aston Villa fan

Labour leader Ed Miliband is known to support Leeds United, but is also a big fan of baseball, supporting Boston Red Sox after getting into the sport when studying at Harvard. He also counts himself a snooker fan.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg is an Arsenal fan, although he admits he followed his children's example in this respect. When he is working at home on Sunday nights he sets himself a deadline of the start of Match of the Day 2 to finish all his work off. He's also an "obsessive skier" and likes tennis.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage likes to go fishing on the Kent coast by himself at night. He also loves cricket, supporting Kent and never missing an Ashes test at Lords. He is understood to support Crystal Palace as his son has a season ticket.

Image caption The UKIP leader loves fishing

DUP leader Peter Robinson likes football and supports Tottenham Hotspur - although he's often seen at Chelsea games as his son supports them. He's also an avid cyclist. Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams supports Antrim.

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett used to play football (goalkeeper) and cricket (wicketkeeper) but says most of her exercise comes from rushing around the country.

Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood's sporting interests are not so well-known, although she supports the Welsh national team in both football and rugby union.


SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon names Sunset Song, a story of a young woman's struggles growing up in a dysfunctional family in a farming community in Scotland, published in 1932, as her favourite book of all time.

Giuseppe Lampedusa's The Leopard, about life during Italy's unification, is among Nick Clegg's favourite reads. He has also mentioned JM Coetzee's Life & Times of Michael K.

Good-Bye to All That by WW1 poet Robert Graves has been singled out by David Cameron. The book, a memoir, is an account of the cruelty and degradation of trench warfare. Ed Miliband is a fan of On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwan.

One of Nigel Farage's greatest enthusiasms is for touring World War One battlefields with a group of close friends who call themselves "Farage's Foragers", so it's hardly surprising that he prefers books about military history or biographies.


David Cameron welcomed Larry the cat to Downing Street in 2011 in an effort to deal with No 10's rat problem but in 2013, No 10 was forced to deny claims the cat was disliked by the PM and his family.

Koi fish, an ornamental variety of the common carp, are kept by Peter Robinson.

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett says sad animal stories make her cry.

Gerry Adams loves dogs, saying he has had them since he was four or five years old. He also likes hanging out with his grandchildren's dogs, and often goes hill walking with them. He also likes toy ducks, if his Twitter feed is anything to go by.


Leanne Wood says she spends most of her time watching political programmes Newsnight and Question Time and the last programme to make her cry was Michael Sheen's Valleys Rebellion.

Nicola Sturgeon is a fan of Borgen, the Danish political drama about a woman who rises to become prime minister while having to maintain a fragile coalition. The SNP leader even suggested the show's star Sidse Babett Knudsen could play her in a movie of her life. She has also admitted to liking TV singing contests The X Factor and The Voice.

Image copyright Sky Atlantic HD

Game of Thrones is Natalie Bennett's favourite box set, but she admitted not watching the most violent scenes. Bennett named Jed Bartlet of The West Wing as her favourite TV politician.

Nigel Farage says he is too busy to listen to music, watch television or read during the campaign period, but his wife has said he's a big fan of classic sitcoms like Dad's Army and "loves all the 70s stuff that they still repeat".

Broadchurch and Homeland are Ed Miliband's favourite TV programmes, but if it's a family affair, they will watch The Octonauts on CBeebies.

David Cameron enjoys gritty dramas and murder mysteries such as The Killing, Case Histories, Midsomer Murders and Silent Witness, and admits to enjoying Shameless and Breaking Bad. He lists the 1970s classic Porridge as his favourite sitcom.

Nick Clegg used to love reality cookery show Come Dine With Me. As far as political satires go, he says he enjoyed Veep but felt British politics wasn't much like The Thick Of It. Miliband also says he avoids the programme. Clegg says his first TV hero was Basil Brush.


Spaghetti Westerns like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly have always appealed to David Cameron. But he also has a softer side, confessing to crying during the singing of Edelweiss in the Sound of Music. The Martin Scorsese gangster film Mean Streets also has significance for him as he proposed to wife Samantha during a screening of it.

Pride, a film about gay and lesbian activists from London travelling to Wales during the miner's strike, made Ed Miliband cry. "I blubbed," he said. Goldfinger is his favourite Bond film.

Nick Clegg has spoken in the past about his love for Kung-Fu Panda. "It is one of the greatest movies made in recent years."


Nigel Farage says his favourite song is Frank Sinatra's I Did it My Way. He's also partial to the West End musical Les Miserables.

Welsh pop band Catatonia are Leanne Wood's favourite band.

Nick Clegg says he's more of a classical man - partial to Rachmaninov or a Johnny Cash number. His BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs choices included David Bowie's Life on Mars and The Cross by Prince.

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Peter Robinson says he likes anything from rock to country star Tammy Wynette. Natalie Bennett says singer-songwriter Grace Petrie, in particular They Shall Not Pass, is her favourite music. Nicola Sturgeon found a new favourite in sisters Klara and Johanna Soderberg, who make up First Aid Kit, after meeting them on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

David Cameron says folk singer Nick Mulvey is his favourite new musician and has named Pink Floyd as his favourite band of all time. He says the first record he bought was possibly something by The Glitter Band, in the period after Gary Glitter had left.

Ellie Goulding and Bastille are both favourites of Ed Miliband, though the Labour leader has denied boning up on popular culture to appear normal. "I'm more interested in swotting up on what's happening in the Middle East rather than Top Gear."

Gerry Adams has revealed musical tastes that extend from Joni Mitchell to Leonard Cohen to Luke Kelly on his Twitter feed.


Image copyright Thinkstock

Leanne Wood told the BBC Sunday roast is "without question" her favourite meal.

Indian is Nicola Sturgeon's takeaway of choice, while Ed Miliband opts for Chinese.

Nick Clegg has spoken of his "joy" of food from Spain, birthplace of his wife Miriam, citing deep-fried croquetas, made with flour, cheese and ham, among his favourites. He says Miriam is a "fantastic cook" and lasagne is probably his favourite TV dinner. By comparison, he's a "hopeless cook", but makes a "good solid meat pie with lots of Henderson's Sheffield Relish sprinkled over it".

Rich Italian sausage meat pasta with half a pint of double-cream was David Cameron's recipe of choice when he was asked to submit one for charity. He's also partial to pork belly and slow-roast lamb with home-grown vegetables. He says his guiltiest pleasure is a big fry-up, and his favourite smell is food on the barbecue.

Natalie Bennett says her own homemade lemon polenta cake is her favourite food and gluten-free pizza is her signature dish. She says lots of fruit and vegetables, gluten-free oats and London beers are in her weekly shopping basket, and cinnamon tea is the last thing she drinks at night.

Meanwhile, Nigel Farage's "signature dish" is "sea bream I've caught myself". Asked for his "best place for a burger and why?" he replied "never".

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