This article titled “Ed Miliband leadership crisis fuelled by claim of growing ‘feud’ with brother” was written by Toby Helm and Paul Gallagher, for The Observer on Saturday 11th June 2011 18.59 Europe/London
David Miliband moved to quash speculation in a new book that relations with his brother have plunged to a new low in the nine months since their Labour leadership battle.
An unauthorised biography alleges that the contest has had a far worse impact on the siblings’ relationship than either has admitted publicly. The former foreign secretary is said to be barely able to bring himself to speak to Ed and communicates mainly through officials.
David is allegedly scathing about his brother’s performance, and thinks Ed is “heading in the wrong direction”. For his part, Ed is said to regard his brother as too “managerial and technocratic”, according to Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre’s book, Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader, serialised in the Mail on Sunday.
The claims follow leaks in the Guardian of the acceptance speech David would have given had he not been deprived of the leadership by his brother. The leak prompted Labour MPs to speculate privately that David was moving to discomfort his brother after one of the worst weeks of his leadership.
Both camps dismissed the claims of a complete breakdown in their relationship as “soap opera speculation”.
“David Miliband has moved on from the leadership election,” his spokesman said. “He met with Ed before, during and after the contest and they remain in regular contact. This is soap opera speculation about history when the public want politicians to be focusing on the future.” A source close to the Labour leader said: “This is tittle-tattle and the Labour party will be concentrating on meeting the challenges of Britain’s future, not looking back to the past.”
Growing anxiety over Ed’s performance was compounded after the Independent on Sunday reported David was waiting for his brother to “fail” and that he would then stake his claim to replace him. Senior Labour figures are believed to have put their leader on a timer to “up his game” in the next few months if he is to avoid a full-blown leadership crisis later this year.
Miliband, meanwhile, will attempt to stem growing doubts about his leadership with an assault on Britain’s “take what you can” culture which is open to exploitation by benefit cheats and unscrupulous bankers.
One ally of Miliband, whose troubles deepened with a poor Commons performance last Wednesday, told the Observer that unless he could turn his fortunes round by the end of the autumn party conference, his support would drain away.
Others say Miliband has until next May’s local elections to show he has a programme for Labour that the party can rally around and the personality to shine in the job.
Miliband will use Monday’s speech to claim that in government his party would pursue a more radical reform of the welfare state than the coalition, while also tackling the City’s bonus culture.
He will say: “The hardest truth is that too many people feel we became the party of those at the top and bottom who were not showing responsibility and shirking this duty: from bankers who caused the global financial crisis to some of those on benefit who were abusing the system because they could work – but didn’t.
“Labour, a party founded by hard-working people for hard-working people, was seen by some – however unfairly – as the party of those ripping off society. A ‘take what you can’ culture which began in the 1980s was allowed to continue, unchecked, under the last government.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010