Edward Samuel Miliband, aged 45, leads a party of waning fortunes since Tony Blair held power. He is on record as saying he believes he is the best person …“to move us on from New Labour… to get back in touch with the concerns of working people.”
Some of course call him ‘Red Ed’, given his Marxist father and his left-wing mother.
Their Oxford and London School of Economics-educated son, however, won the support of the unions while sticking up for middle income earners, vowing tax cuts and better services with accountability.
In a rousing speech, he said: “Everything in this manifesto is funded. The deficit will be cut every year. And I offer this manifesto as proof — a better plan, for a better future for our country.”
Ed Miliband’s older brother David, policy chief for Blair and then foreign minister under Brown, eased out of politics when Ed won the Labour leadership in 2010. Ed had left a journalist career behind him and now became head of the Opposition, record young, at 40. David seemed not to bear him any hard feelings.
Miliband was favourable to devolving authority to lower levels of government, although critics on the left complained he was too far right, yet slowly the party began performing better. Labour also won more seats in the European elections, ahead of the conservatives though behind UKIP.
Miliband said: “I know we lost trust. I know we lost touch. I know we need to change. Today a new generation has taken charge of Labour.”
Taking charge included going where Tories didn’t, like going to Manchester to encourage the volunteer cleanup after the summer 2011 riots in several cities which followed the London police killing of a black suspect. Miliband called for a public inquiry.
If Labour won the elections, Miliband might not have quite the margin needed to govern without others’ support. The Scottish National Party offered him an alliance to oust the conservatives but he turned it down. He is strongly against the notion of an independent Scotland.
He has courted student voters with proposals to slash tuition fees and reform the staggering loan repayment system. They are also concerned by high rents. Miliband tries to reassure them, saying Labour “won’t make the young pay the price of hard times” but wants to “restore the promise of Britain”.