Ed Miliband emerges from brother’s shadow

Ed Miliband has finally emerged from his older brother’s shadow to win the leadership of Britain’s opposition Labour Party but now faces a challenge to unify the party.

The two brothers have taken almost identical paths — Ed following David to the same state-run school in London and the same Oxford college through working for the Labour Party, election to Parliament and becoming a Cabinet minister.

Now Ed (40) has finally got ahead of his 45-year-old brother, seizing the leadership of the party that had seemed within his older brother’s grasp.

His wafer-thin victory means he could one day become prime minister if he can rebuild the centre-left party’s support after defeat in a May election ended 13 years of Labour rule.

To do so, he must unify the party which has been torn by years of feuding between supporters of the former Labour prime ministers Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.

He must also win round Labour members of Parliament and activists, more of whom voted for David than for Ed. Strong union backing helped Ed edge over the 50% winning line.

Miliband must devise a strategy to fight the coalition government’s deep spending cuts, aimed at reducing a record peacetime budget deficit, without appearing irresponsible.

David Miliband, a former foreign minister, was long seen as the heir to Blair, who led Labour to three consecutive election victories with his centrist, pro-business policies.

He passed up a chance to run for the party leadership when Blair resigned in 2007 and had several opportunities to wield the knife when Brown’s premiership was teetering, but he drew back and his chance of leading Labour now appears to have gone.

Ed has slightly more left-wing views than his brother and is close to the Brown camp.

Ed won despite writing the party’s manifesto for the May election which his brother criticised as uninspiring.

The two brothers regularly speak of their love for each other but former Labour leader Neil Kinnock has said he was surprised by David’s “deeply resentful” response to Ed standing for the leadership.

The Miliband brothers have lived and breathed politics since their childhood. Their Jewish father, Ralph, born in Brussels, was a prominent Marxist academic who fled to Britain to escape the Nazis in 1940.

Ralph Miliband, a lecturer at the London School of Economics (LSE), turned his home into a magnet for left-wing visitors.

Ed Miliband has recalled meeting anti-apartheid activist Ruth First, a former student of his father’s, in 1982.

“When I was 12 years old the phone rang and we were told she had been assassinated by the South African secret service — blown up by a letter bomb,” he said in a speech in June.

“Some people will wonder about why I got to care about politics. When something like that happens, what kid wouldn’t,” he said.

After studying at Oxford University and the LSE, Miliband worked briefly as a television journalist before becoming a speechwriter and researcher for prominent Labour politician Harriet Harman and then for Brown.

Elected member of Parliament for Doncaster North in 2005, Miliband had a rapid rise through the ministerial ranks, just like his brother before him.

Brown made him energy and climate change secretary in 2008, putting him in charge of Britain’s preparations for the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009.

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Adrian Croft
Adrian Croft works from London, England. Reuters sub-editor in London. Previously Reuters European Defence Editor in Brussels and before that reported from UK, Spain, U.S., Latin America, South Africa. Adrian Croft has over 929 followers on Twitter.

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Nthikeng Mohlele comes up short with ‘The Discovery of Love’

The talented novelist Nthikeng Mohlele’s debut short-story collection lacks the vitality that makes short stories magical

What is at root of white anxiety in post-apartheid South...

Some white people think any discussion of racism or its legacy is an attempt to shame or condemn them for the ‘sin’ of their whiteness

OPINION| ANC’s socialist thinking is crushing South Africa’s future

The Cold War ended more than three decades ago. That period of history showed that socialism, at a country scale, is unsustainable

Suicide cases soar in Zimbabwe

The economic crisis in the country appears to be pushing people over the mental edge

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…