THE BLOG
26/11/2013 05:23 GMT | Updated 25/01/2014 05:59 GMT

Are Ed and David Miliband Really 'Best Friends'?

The most interesting aspect for me in Ed Miliband's appearance last Sunday on Desert Island Discs was the clearly uncomfortable discussion between him and Kirsty Young, the very excellent presenter of the programme, about his relationship with his brother David...

The most interesting aspect for me in Ed Miliband's appearance last Sunday on Desert Island Discs was the clearly uncomfortable discussion between him and Kirsty Young, the very excellent presenter of the programme, about his relationship with his brother David.

You will recall that it was Ed (aged 43) who beat David (aged 48) in the contest for the leadership of the Labour party in 2010.

Ironically both brothers continue to skirt around the issue and both have described the state of their relationship as "healing".

But Kirsty Young wasn't afraid of tackling the subject in between Ed picking his favourite records that he would take with him to a desert island.

Asked whether the brothers had a heart-to-heart talk about the fact that Ed would stand for the Labour leadership, Ed said: "We didn't have a sort of total heart-to-heart about it".

Interesting that the conversation brought about some awkward moments and he carefully used the words "sort of".

Then came this from Miss Young:

"Is David still your best friend?"

Ed, thoughtfully: "Yerrrs. But it's been tough."

"I didn't take the decision lightly."

"I knew it would have an impact on my family and on him. It's been incredibly tough - really, really tough."

Had he thought of what impact it would have on the family? He admitted that the wounds were not yet healed.

But he says he has no regrets about taking on his brother - and even chose as his ¬final record on Desert Island Discs Edith Piaf's legendary anthem Non Je Ne Regrette Rien - which translates as "I regret nothing".

Ed says: "What I thought was this is going to be hard but I've got things to say and to do which I'm in a better place than him and others to say and do.

"It was hard for my family. It was very hard for David. But I felt it was the right thing."

He claims he initially did not consider challenging his brother at all.

Ed tells presenter: "I was pretty dismissive of the idea for some time. We danced around it a bit because neither of us was desperate to confront it. We didn't have a total heart to heart about it."

There was also their widowed mother Marion, 79, to consider.

"But she was scrupulously neutral," says Ed. "She wasn't going to take sides between her two boys."

Nevertheless, whatever the brothers say in public, this is clearly a relationship between that is one for examining on the therapist's couch.

We also need to remember that it had been David who was first to study politics at Oxford, David who was first into Cabinet, and David who had telephoned Ed to say Dad was dying in hospital.

Even though Ed admits it's a tough relationship, he said he spoke to David two weeks before the recording of the programme, and he called him his "best friend".

He also disclosed that he spent time trying to get David to join the shadow cabinet, but "In the end he said to me, 'Look, I need to lead an organisation.'"

Before he moved to New York to head up the International Rescue Committee, David said about their relationship "There's no point in looking into the rear view mirror."

But all the same, the charity he now works for is some 3,500 miles away from the hub of Westminster and it does mean that Ed can get on with the job of leading the Labour party and perhaps making his ambition of governing the country come true.

*For those of you who didn't catch the programme, here are Ed's discs he plans to take with him to that little island - all on his own - which he admitted, he wouldn't be happy not being able to share the island with anyone else.

1. South African national anthem (Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika)

2. Hubert Parry - Jerusalem

3. Paul Robeson - Ballad of Joe Hill

4. A-ha - Take On Me

5. Neil Diamond - Sweet Caroline

6. Robbie Williams - Angels

7. Josh Ritter - Change of Time

8. Edith Piaf - Je Ne Regrette Rien