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Miliband brothers battle to lead Britain's defeated Labour Party

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-05-16

Brothers and former cabinet ministers Ed (photo right) and David Miliband (left) will compete against each other for the leadership of Britain's Labour Party, which was defeated in last week's general election after 13 years in power.

AFP - Two brothers will fight for the leadership of Britain's Labour Party after Ed Miliband announced Saturday he will stand against former foreign secretary David Miliband.

Ex-energy secretary Ed, 40, said he would run against his 44-year-old brother in the contest to replace Gordon Brown, who quit as Britain's prime minister and leader of the centre-left party as Labour left office on Tuesday.

The Milibands are the only candidates so far, though others are expected to join the race.

After 13 years in power under Tony Blair and Brown, Labour has gone into opposition following last week's general election, with the Conservatives, who won the most seats, entering a coalition with the third-placed Liberal Democrats.

Launching his campaign, Ed Miliband called for a "fraternal" contest between all the candidates.

"I have talked to my family and friends and I have decided to stand to be leader of the Labour Party," he told the Fabian Society think-tank in central London.

"My message to the British people is: we will learn from our mistakes, we will be part of your values again, we will be part of your community again and we will work with you to build the kind of country we want to see.

"And my message to our party is this: we have to use this leadership campaign as a first step on the road back to power because that is where we should be as a political party."

Ed Miliband is a close ally of Brown and drafted Labour's election manifesto. He was among Brown's inner circle in the final minutes as he quit office.

The Milibands were the first brothers to sit in the Cabinet since 1938.

Ed Miliband said he was "absolutely" prepared to serve under his elder brother.

He said many people had suggested that the brothers strike a deal for one of them to stand aside, as Blair and Brown did in 1994.

But he said: "No deals. Deals are the thing that got us into some of the problems we have had.

"David is my best friend in the world. I love him dearly and I think it is absolutely possible and necessary for this party to have a civilised contest."

Bookmakers make David Miliband the odds-on favourite to become the leader, with his brother Ed leading the chasing pack, which includes former health secretary Andy Burnham, ex-schools secretary Ed Balls and leading backbench left-winger Jon Cruddas.

Balls told The Guardian newspaper he would consult his local party branch before deciding whether to stand.

He offered to stand aside in favour of his wife, former work and pensions secretary Yvette Cooper, but she has decided not to run for family reasons.

Date created : 2010-05-16

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