A British-American bluestocking living in the UK writes about politics, pop culture, and emerging new paradigms as they unfold on both sides of the Atlantic. (New content.)

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Ed Miliband Wins Labour Leadership Over His Eldest Brother

Ed and David Miliband
The Bible is filled with stories of warring brothers, so are the Greek tragedies. Britain had its own drama unfolding the past few months in David and Ed Miliband, sons of  Jewish immigrants who fled the Nazis during WWII.  Both brothers were duelling for the head of the Labour Party in Great Britain. They campaigned these past few months criss-crossing the country stumping for votes after the defeat of Gordon Brown to David Cameron in the general election. The brothers were separated by a 1.3  point margin with David leading the votes until, in the third round, Ed Balls was forced out of the voting and his votes were re-distributed giving Ed Miliband the lead. (Also running in the race for leadership were Diane Abbott, Ed Balls and Andy Burnham, none of whom were expected to do well in light of the clear two-man race.) The brothers campaign was contentious. After all, how would you feel if you had been expectantly working and waiting for years to move into a leadership position, and then your little brother who is not half as experienced as you, decides to throw his hat in the ring? In the end it was an upset.  Little brother Ed ( "Ed the Red" as he is called by his detractors) was named the new leader of the Labour Party. His opponents were quick to point out that it was Ed's leftist Manifesto that helped to lose the last election for Labour. Most of his support came from the trade unions. Many think that it was the last minute bombastic attack on Ed Miliband by infamous Lord Mandelson who called him "out of touch" that changed the course of the election. Lord Mandelson is known as part of the "old guard" of the Labour Party and this move on his part probably pushed a lot of MPs to shift their votes simply not to be identified with the Labour bullies of old.

David Miliband was the rising star of the Labour Party having served as Foreign Secretary under former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. In the aftermath of the Labour defeat last May it was David, the eldest who had been picked as the natural successor to Gordon Brown. In a move that stunned the pundits, his younger brother, Ed threw his hat into the ring and decided to run against his brother. It was to be the move (as we now know) that was to curtail the ambition of his eldest brother (for now, anyway.)

In the UK, unlike America, each party elects a Leader who is then poised ready to stand for the Prime Ministership when an election is called.It is up to the standing Prime Minister to decide when an election should take place.Therefore, when the Labour Party elects a leader, he will be the candidate for the party in the next general election. The Labour Party and the Conservative Party are basically (in many ways) similar to the Democratic Party and the Republican Party in the United States. They are the two major political forces in the United Kingdom with UKIP gaining strength in recent years because of its bold  stance against the intrusion of the European Union. Though David Miliband was the favorite, in the last few weeks, Ed Miliband (called "Ed the Red" by his detractors who label him a leftist) saw the dark horse, catching up to his brother. Ed was the more approachable, affable Miliband. "Ed speaks Human" read a sign carried by a constituent. David was not comfortable answering questions always looking a bit miffed and defensive.

The Milibands are sons of the late Ralph Miliband and Marion Kozak (still living), both Jewish immigrants who fled the Nazis and made their way to England. Ralph Miliband was an avowed Marxist who studied under Harold Laski and wrote the seminal work, Parliamentary Socialism: A Study of the Politics of Labour. This book greatly influenced the rise of radical socialism and its ensuing youth protests in the 1960's. To the disaffected youth of the 60's, the elder Miliband was an icon. His wife, Marion, is an academic and a feminist who is involved heavily in the Jewish movement for Palestine. Ralph Miliband was vehemently opposed to the Vietnam war and his impassioned speeches against it are now legend. He died in 1994.

Both brothers were Members of Parliament for Doncaster (both North and South) in Yorkshire. They were educated at Oxford University and while David was Foreign Secretary under Gordon Brown, Ed was an advisor to the Treasury. When asked in a televised debate, if they were "socialist", both brothers said that they were. But, say the left, this is not the radical pure Marxist socialism that was espoused by their father. Basically, what the Milibands have done is accepted capitalism and re-written socialism (as the Labour Party has done in recent decades) to be merely a defense of big spending, social programs and the working class. Their father would have been astounded to see that both of his sons stood for leader of the Labour Party, but it would not have been the type of Labour Party he envisioned. In the minds of most leftists, the Milibands are not leftist enough, basically establishment "sell-outs" and in the minds of the right, they are very far to the left. The Conservatives are chirping as they feel that Ed Miliband's election will be too far left and Labour is pleased because it feels that the Party can now attract all the disenchanted Lib Dems who feel that the coalition government has given up too much to the Tories.

New Labour (as the Labour Party was named under Emperor Tony Blair) had more moderate (not by American standards, mind you) views. It moved the Labour Party from the left to a more centrist view. With the Milibands in power, it will, no doubt begin to move back to "Old Labour" which was a government that was fully aligned with the European Union, trade unions, loss of individual sovereignty and  taxing the middle-class into oblivion. Ed Miliband stated in his acceptance address that he wanted a "smaller gap" between the rich and poor. Unfortunately, Mr Miliband's plan to do that, no doubt, is to find a way so that there will be no middle-class standing between them.  

A better script for a Hollywood movie could have never been written. But if Ed Miliband becomes Prime Minister, after paying taxes, you won't be able to afford to buy a ticket to see it.