Ed Miliband has won the Labour leadership in England after narrowly beating Brother David in a dramatic run-off vote ahead of the party’s conference. Ed won by just over 1% from former foreign secretary David after second, third and fourth preference votes came into play.
Mr Miliband, 40, replaces acting leader Harriet Harman in the contest triggered by the resignation of Gordon Brown. The former energy secretary appears to have benefited from a last-minute surge of support
Mr Miliband hugged David after the result was announced. In his victory speech, he vowed to unify the party, telling delegates: “The Labour Party in the future must be a vehicle that doesn’t just attract thousands of young people but tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of young people who see us as their voice in British politics today.”
He paid tribute to his predecessors Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, but added: “We lost the election and we lost it badly. My message to the country is this: I know we lost trust, I know we lost touch, I know we need to change. “Today a new generation has taken charge of Labour, a new generation that understands the call of change.”
Prime Minister David Cameron called Mr Miliband from his Chequers country retreat to congratulate him on his victory. In a three-minute conversation, he told the new leader of the opposition that people would tell him that his was “the worst job in the world” but that it was not that bad and promised to keep him in touch with matters of national security.
Ed Miliband responded by saying that he would lead “a responsible opposition” which would work with the government where they could.
After four rounds of voting Ed Miliband won with 175,519 votes, while David Miliband received 147,220 votes.
The Ed Miliband story
Ed Miliband, who has been MP for Doncaster North since 2005 and was energy and climate change secretary until Labour’s election defeat in May, 2010, is a former aide to Gordon Brown at the Treasury, who joined the Labour Party at the age of 17.
The son of the late Marxist intellectual Ralph Miliband, he is the 20th person to take on the leadership of the Labour Party.
He positioned himself to the left of his brother, the former foreign secretary who is five years older and who started the four-month contest as frontrunner.
He sold himself to party members as the “change” candidate, securing the backing of three of the four biggest trade unions – Unite, Unison and the GMB.
To some extent, Ed Miliband has spent much of the first 40 years of his life in the shadow of his older, better-known brother David, the former foreign secretary.
He did the same course – Philosophy, Politics and Economics – at Oxford University, at the same college, and followed David into a similar backroom role in the Labour Party, albeit on different sides of the Tony Blair/Gordon Brown divide. The two even lived in a flat in the same building for a while.
They both sat in Gordon Brown’s cabinet, with Ed filling the less high profile role of climate change and energy secretary. Ed used to introduce himself at meetings as “the other Miliband”.
His stunning victory in the Labour leadership contest may mean David will soon have to start using that line.
During the leadership contest, both Miliband brothers made much of the fact they went to an ordinary North London comprehensive school. And while this is true, their childhood will probably have been a little more colourful, and certainly more intellectually stimulating, than that of the average North London schoolboy.
Their father, Ralph, a Polish Jew who fled the Nazi invasion of Belgium in 1940, was one of the leading Marxist theorists of his generation – and a fierce critic of the Labour Party. Their mother, Marion Kozak, is also a well-known figures on the British left.
But although he is sometimes said to be politically closer to Ralph than his brother, in truth the two Miliband brothers are worlds away from his brand of socialism.
Although no lover of Soviet-style one-party rule or violent revolution, he had abandoned the Labour Party long before his sons were born, believing socialism could never be achieved through Parliamentary means.
He died in 1994, a few weeks before Tony Blair became Labour leader, but had viewed with unease his sons’ part in creating what would become known as New Labour.
Their mother Marion, an early CND activists and human rights campaigner, who is a leading member of the Jews for Justice for Palestinians group, and who, unlike Ralph, remained in the Labour Party, is thought to have been a greater influence on their political development.
Both brothers have said the experience of seeing equally bright pupils, from less privileged backgrounds, failing to reach their potential had a profound impact on their politics and outlook.
The more academically gifted of the two, Ed did better than David in his A-levels, following his brother to Corpus Christi College in Oxford, where he became involved in student activism.
After briefly working as a television journalist, Ed was taken on by current deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman, then a shadow minister, as a speech writer and researcher. His number-crunching skills soon brought him to the attention of the then shadow chancellor.
When Labour came to power, Ed was pitched into the never-ending turf wars between the Treasury and Downing Street, coming to be seen as one of Mr Brown’s key backroom allies.
He gained a reputation as something of a diplomat, whose skill at defusing rows was reportedly much in demand in the escalating battle between Brownites and Blairites.
It is said that Ed would often be despatched from the Brown camp to make peace with Downing Street, where David worked as head of Blair’s policy unit. “I was the one who tried to bridge some of the nonsense that there was,” is how he now describes his role.
In 2003, he spent a year’s sabbatical at Harvard University, to study and lecture at Harvard’s Centre for European Studies, before becoming an MP for the safe seat of Doncaster North in 2005. Like his brother, he belongs to the generation of Labour politicians who, until recently, had known nothing but power
He lives in Primrose Hill, the same fashionable North London district where he grew up, with partner Justine and their young son. Another son is on the way in November, 2010.
He has won support from the left by calling for the retention of the 50p tax rate and opposing a third runway at Heathrow Airport and he was widely praised by green activists during his time as climate change secretary.
The brothers have also disagreed on Iraq – with Ed calling the 2003 invasion a “tragic error” and saying he would have voted to give weapons inspectors more time had he been an MP at the time.
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