A Labour shadow minister has given credit to the model Sam Fox for inspiring her to pose for topless photographs.

Gloria De Piero, a former presenter of GMTV, has been touring the country on behalf of party leader Ed Miliband to try and drum up support for more women to enter politics.

She said that the money from the photo-shoots when she was aged 15, helped her escape from a miserable existence waiting for 'the giro' to come in every two weeks in the 1980s.

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Ms Piero, whose parents were unemployed, said: "It was the era of page 3. You know Sam Fox, Linda Lusardi - all those women seemed to have a better life than me. I remember my mum ringing the agency and trying to stop it from happening and me going mad. I thought it might be a route out."

Ms De Piero had to move home, forcing her husband James Robinson to take voluntary redundancy from his job as a journalist to persue a career in politics. He supported her career and has since found another job.

Ms De Piero, 42, said she does not blame the pressures of Westminster on the couple's decision not to have children.

The MP for Ashfield in Nottinghamshire said: "I've never had that compelling urge [to have children]. Of course you need fulfilment in your life - I'm lucky to be in a job that gives my life meaning."

Four female Tory MPs haveannounced plans to step down, and a fifth, Scots-born Thirsk and Maldon MP Anne McIntosh has been deselected. Ms De Piero added: "You can make it work."