New Labor leader Ed Miliband promises relief

Jewish minister narrowly defeats elder, better known brother in close run contest; pledges to reunite wounded party.

Ed Milliband hugs brother 311 (photo credit: AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Ed Milliband hugs brother 311
(photo credit: AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
LONDON – After beating his big brother to take the helm of the Britain’s Labor Party, Ed Miliband vowed to reunite the party in order to return it to power.
“Today a new generation has stepped forward to change our party,” Miliband, 40, said, after defeating his older brother David, 45, the clear favorite until the last day of campaigning, by only 1.3 percent.
“We are united in our mission to transform Labor so that, once again, we stand up for the hardworking majority who play by the rules and want a less divided and more prosperous Britain. I know we have a lot of work to do, the journey starts today.”
Both Milibands were competing to succeed Gordon Brown, who had resigned after the party lost the May general election.
In his victory speech, Miliband paid tribute to his brother: “David, I love you so much as a brother and I have such extraordinary respect for the campaign that you ran, the strength and eloquence that you showed. We all know how much you have to offer this country in the future.”
The complex voting system – in which Labor MPs, MEPs and affiliated organizations and activists, including trade unions, vote – put David Miliband ahead in the first three rounds of voting. However, the final round saw Ed creep ahead to win by 50.65% to 49.35%.
His victory owed much to votes from the trade unions. The Conservative party immediately jumped on this saying that this will mean that Ed will remain in debt to them, while MPs who supported brother David warned that Ed’s dependence on union votes was a “disaster” for the party.
Many of the top unions support a call for a boycott of Israel and the severing of ties with the Histadrut.
Earlier month, the trade union federation, the Trade Union Congress, stopped short of adopting a full boycott, instead vowing to support a lesser boycott of goods and services from the West Bank while working closely with a radical anti- Israel fringe group who support a blanket boycott of Israel.
Educated at Oxford University and the London School of Economics, Ed was appointed a special advisor to Gordon Brown after Labor’s election victory in 1997. Rising steadily through the ranks, he was made secretary of state in the newly created Department of Energy and Climate Change in 2008.
Not an MP at during the Iraq war, Miliband has distanced himself from the decision to go to war, saying he would have given the weapons inspectors more time.
Most of the Miliband’s leadership campaign had been directed towards the left of the party, declaring New Labor to be “dead” and describing the direction of the party as “brutish US-style capitalism.”
In contrast, brother David, who was seen as a natural successor to Tony Blair, focused on the center ground and the legacy of New Labor.
On Sunday, Ed Miliband insisted that Labor will not “lurch to the left” under his leadership and that he will not be at the mercy of the trade unions.
“I’m my own man,” he said in a BBC interview.
Miliband also said that he was on “the center ground of politics” and rejected the nickname “Red Ed” he gained during the campaign as “rubbish.”
The late father of the Miliband brothers was Marxist intellectual Ralph Miliband, who fled Belgium during World War II. Their mother is Polish-born Marion Kozak, who is a signatory of the anti-Zionist campaign group Jews for Justice for Palestinians.
The Milibands lost over 80 family members during the Holocaust, many in Auschwitz.
Ed Miliband was criticized during the campaign for employing an anti-Israeli activist as an assistant.
The Jewish Chronicle reported in July that Joseph Brown, a former student union officer at London School of Economics, was working as a volunteer on Miliband’s website during the leadership contest, despite also having previously been sacked by another MP.
The community weekly reported that while at LSE, Brown allegedly made comments about having “shot down a Zionist” during a classroom occupation stunt to protest against Israel’s actions during Operation Cast Lead.
Meanwhile Ken Livingstone has been chosen by the Labor Party as their candidate for the mayor of London election in 2012. Livingstone, who has a shaky relationship with the British Jewish community following his outspoken views against Israel, will face Boris Johnson, the Conservative mayor who beat Livingstone in the 2008 mayoral election.