British opposition urged to get over brothers' 'soap opera'



MANCHESTER, Robin Millard - David Miliband on Monday urged Britain's opposition Labour Party to get over the "soap opera" of his sibling rivalry with younger brother Ed, who beat him to the party leadership.
The former foreign minister also begged the party to bury the bitter infighting seen between the camps of former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, but refused to say if he would serve under his brother.



David Miliband
David Miliband
Ed defeated his better-known older brother by a narrow majority in a surprise outcome to the centre-left party's leadership race on Saturday, leaving David considering his future.
Ed Miliband was a close Brown aide, while David was firmly in the Blair circle, putting them on opposing sides of the warring factions during the party's 13 years in power which were ended by defeat in May's general election.
But David Miliband told Labour's annual conference in Manchester, northwest England, that only a united party could oust Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative-Liberal coalition from power.
"No more cliques, no more factions, no more soap opera -- one united Labour Party taking on one divided government," he said.
"We have a great new leader and we have to get behind him.
"Above all I'm incredibly proud of my brother. Ed is a special person to me. Now he is a special person to you and our job is to make him a special person for all the British people."
David Miliband arrived in Manchester hoping to deliver the leader's speech on Tuesday, but had to deliver his back-up address as the foreign affairs spokesman instead.
His rousing speech, made without notes, gave party members a glimpse of what they might have had with him as leader.
Watched over by Ed Miliband from the platform, his address received a lengthy standing ovation and cheers from party members in the auditorium, before he hugged his brother.
But though they stood arm in arm on stage, David Miliband is still refusing to say whether he will put himself forward to serve in Ed's shadow Cabinet.
He has until Wednesday to stand for election as one of the party's front-bench spokesmen, scrutinising the government.
"I am not going to get into this until conference is well and truly done and Ed's got his speech out of the way," David Miliband told reporters.
"I came here on Saturday planning a slightly different week, just a slightly different week, so I am now thinking what I am going to do instead."
The Miliband saga is the talk of the conference, with delegates debating in the halls and corridors about the party's future prospects.
Many were thankful for David Miliband's call to ditch the Blair-Brown infighting.
"It has to go and people have got to grow up," party member Emma Burnell, who volunteered on Ed's campaign, told AFP.
"People are pretty united. Some are disappointed, and that's inevitable, but everyone I speak to says 'actually you're not the enemy, the Conservatives are.'"
Another member from east London, who did not want to be named, said: "They are brothers, so they will be used to having disagreements that don't end up in long-term splits."
A biography of the brothers' father, the Marxist theorist Ralph Miliband, was the bestseller at the conference bookshop, while party grandee Peter Mandelson's memoirs are outselling Blair's by five to one.
Ed, 40, only narrowly beat David, 45, thanks to strong backing from trade union members. He is already fighting off accusations from Cameron's Conservative Party that he is the unions' puppet.
There were also concerns about the nine percent turnout in the union's section of the electoral college, and the 15 percent spoiled ballot rate.
Labour lawmakers and party members, the other two thirds of the college, preferred David Miliband.
Ed Miliband is due to address the conference on Tuesday, after which all eyes will again be on whether his brother will stand for the shadow Cabinet.
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Monday, September 27th 2010
Robin Millard
           


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