David Miliband was overheard telling aides that his brother Ed would “crash and burn”, according to a new biography of the Labour leader co-written by the Huffington Post UK’s political director Mehdi Hasan.
Serialised in the Mail on Sunday, ED: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader, written with James Macintyre, reveals the “complex and often tortuous” relationship that exists between the Miliband brothers, a fraternal bond that has deteriorated in recent years to a state where it has adversely affected the entire Miliband family.
David lost the leadership battle to Ed in September 2010, a defeat that left the elder Miliband “psychologically scarred”, according to a member of his younger brother's inner circle, and unlikely to return to frontline politics while Ed is in opposition.
Detailed in the book, first published last year and released as an updated paperback on Monday, David is said to “view members of Team Ed with disdain and has been known to ‘blank them’ in the corridors of Westminster.”
Yet despite the schism, Ed’s inner circle remains acutely aware of David’s ability, viewing him as a “formidable politician” whose return to frontline politics would provide a welcome boost for the party ahead of the next general election.
The serialisation also reveals an equally complicated relationship between the Labour leader and the shadow chancellor Ed Balls, with some in the Labour movement convinced that Balls will ultimately try to unseat Miliband. As one former cabinet minister put it, “I just can’t believe that Ed Balls doesn’t want to be leader of the Labour Party”.
One Miliband aide went further, suggesting that should “Ed [Miliband] fail” he would be “smoothly” replaced by Yvette Cooper, Balls’ wife and the current shadow home secretary, in a "coronation".
The timing of these latest revelations of splits and plots couldn't be worse for the younger Miliband, as Labour MPs and delegates gather in Manchester for the party's annual conference.
ED: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader by Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre is published by Biteback.