In Depth

Ed Miliband: the Labour leader who beat his brother to the top

From 'weedy and square' comprehensive school pupil to opposition leader. Will Ed be the next PM?

Name: Edward Samuel Miliband

School: Haverstock Comprehensive School

University: Corpus Christi College, Oxford (2:1 in politics, philosophy and economics); London School of Economics (MSc in economics)

Fondness for: A-ha, chicken tikka curry, Boston Red Sox, Billy Bragg, Desperate Housewives, Dallas, 12 Angry Men – and he is pretty dexterous with a Rubik's Cube

What is Miliband's background?

Following a brief career in television journalism, Miliband became a speechwriter and researcher for Labour MP Harriet Harman in 1993 and then for Gordon Brown. He spent a year's sabbatical in 2003 to 2004 as a visiting lecturer at Harvard University and was elected Labour MP for Doncaster North in 2005. He became Parliamentary Secretary in Tony Blair's Cabinet Office the following year. In June 2007, he was appointed Cabinet Office minister in Gordon Brown's Cabinet and given the task of drafting Labour's manifesto for the 2010 general election.

What about his family life?

Born on 24 December 1969, Miliband was introduced to left-wing politics by his father Ralph, a Polish Jew who fled the Nazis in 1940 and became a leading Marxist theorist. His mother Marion Kozak, also a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust, is a human rights campaigner. Miliband and his older brother David, the former Foreign Secretary, grew up with leading intellectuals and Labour politicians visiting their family home. Ken Livingstone dined at their house, while Tony Benn used to help them with their homework. Miliband has described himself as "weedy and square" at school with little success with the ladies. But in 2011, he married his long-term partner Justine Thornton, a barrister who studied at Cambridge and the mother of his two little boys, Daniel and Samuel.

How did he become Labour Party leader?

After Gordon Brown resigned in 2010, Ed decided to stand against his brother David in the leadership race, along with Ed Balls, Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott. While David was a favourite to win, it was Ed who secured the backing of three out of four of Britain's biggest trade unions, GMB, Unison and Unite, to beat his brother by a tight margin of 49.35 per cent to 50.65 per cent. The pair engaged in an awkward sideways hug after the result was announced at Manchester Central Conference Centre, but later confirmed that their battle for leadership had resulted in a breakdown of their relationship.

What does he stand for?

Ed was seen as a Brownite rather than Blairite but insists that he is one of the least "tribal" of MPs. He positioned himself firmly to the left of his brother during the leadership race and continues to campaign for higher taxes for the rich and an end to the "cost of living crisis". He was widely praised by green activists during his time as Climate Change Secretary, a position he held from 2008 to 2010, and has previously spoken out against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, calling it a "tragic error". He briefly won over the public by declaring war on the Murdoch media empire in July 2011; by calling for restraint on banks in February 2012; and by announcing proposals to freeze energy bills for 20 months in October 2013. He has said that the NHS will be "at the heart" of his party's plans over the next ten years.

How popular is Miliband?

Just 21 per cent of the public are satisfied and 65 per cent dissatisfied with the job Miliband is doing as Labour leader, according to the latest Ipsos Mori poll. This is his lowest rating since the last election and falls below his average satisfaction score of 29 per cent for this year. His highest satisfaction rating was 41 per cent when he was first made Labour leader and again in August 2012.

What's his worst gaffe?

Miliband has won praise for his ability to deliver confident speeches without notes, but his lack of prompts backfired at this year's Labour party conference when he forgot some of his most crucial lines. After years of jibes from the Conservatives about Labour's economic credibility, Miliband failed to mention the deficit in his final conference speech before the 2015 election. Like Cameron, Miliband has not been immune to Twitter gaffes either. After Blockbuster host Bob Holness passed away, Miliband was ridiculed for tweeting: "Sad to hear that Bob Holness has died. A generation will remember him fondly from Blackbusters."  

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