Labour Leadership Row:

David Miliband denies leadership plot

David Miliband was forced to deny plotting against his brother today amid claims of an ongoing feud over the Labour leadership.

The former foreign secretary called for the party to unite behind Ed, dismissing reports that he was hoping for him to fail as "soap opera".

"I have moved on from the leadership election and so should everyone else," Mr Miliband said in a statement. "Ed won, I stand fully behind him and so should everyone else.

"I called for unity last October and I repeat that now."

The latest wave of speculation over the brothers' relationship has been sparked by an unauthorised biography alleging that the fallout from last year's contest was far worse than either has admitted publicly.

David is said to have effectively accused his younger brother of lying about his conduct in the contest last year.

The revelations have fuelled doubts about Mr Miliband's future at the helm of the party amid criticism of his performance against David Cameron.

Last week's leak of a text of the victory address David Miliband planned to deliver - admitting Labour's economic stewardship had been flawed - did nothing to dampen rumours of divisions.

But in his statement today the elder sibling insisted: "We all have our part to play in supporting Ed and the frontbench team to ensure we expose this Government for its reckless policies that are damaging the country.

"The rest is soap opera of which I want no part and the public have no interest."

Ed will try to get back on track tomorrow with a keynote speech acknowledging that some voters see the party as having encouraged a "take-what-you-can approach" among benefit scroungers and millionaire bankers.

According to the book, written by two Labour-supporting journalists and serialised in the Mail on Sunday, Mr Miliband says he went to David's home and told him face to face that he intended to seek the leadership.

But the elder brother apparently denies that such a meeting ever took place.

The book also questions the idea that Ed made a last-minute decision to stand. Instead the former energy secretary is said to have been plotting to eclipse David for years.

The authors, Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre, refer to reports that Ed tricked his sibling into not challenging Gordon Brown before the 2010 general election to boost his own chances of succeeding.

This is claimed to have sparked a separate rift between Ed and David's respective wives, Justine Thornton and Louise Shackelton. The book says Louise has been "nasty" to Justine and has "cut Ed dead".

The book, Ed: The Milibands And The Making Of A Labour Leader, asserts that the younger brother blames David's team for spreading his nicknames Red Ed and Forrest Gump.

It paints a less-than-flattering portrait of the young Ed, saying he was a "nasal, dull" youth and a "very unusual student" who had no girlfriends in his four years at Oxford and Harvard universities.

The brothers' Left-wing mother, Marion, who "could not stand Tony Blair", is said to have backed Brownite Ed for the leadership. She apparently believes the family will never be the same as a result of the row.

David can reportedly barely bring himself to speak to his brother now, and the two men communicate mainly through officials.

He is allegedly scathing about Ed's performance in private, saying he is "heading in the wrong direction".

For his part, Ed is said to regard his sibling as too "managerial and technocratic".

The authors also describe serious friction between Mr Miliband and his shadow chancellor Ed Balls.

The leader reportedly "dislikes" Mr Balls and has been overheard "slagging him off in colourful language" in the past.

Bizarrely, one of Mr Balls' own supporters is said to have warned Mr Miliband against putting him in charge of the crucial Treasury brief. They apparently suggested that if Labour won power he could end up with a "madman next door" in 11 Downing Street.

Bad blood between Mr Balls and Mr Miliband dates back to their days as advisers to Mr Brown, according to the book.

It claims Treasury officials divided the former Chancellor's backroom team into "girls" and "boys".

The "boys" included macho Mr Balls and rugged union fixer Charlie Whelan. The "girls" included the less aggressive Ed Miliband, fellow mild-mannered Brownite Douglas Alexander and respected policy aide Spencer Livermore.

"Ed and Alexander could often be overheard in their shared office 'slagging off' Balls, using colourful language," the book claims. "Their dislike for Ed Balls was an open secret."

The authors recount an extraordinary confrontation between Mr Miliband and Mr Balls in 2003, on the eve of the Iraq war.

Mr Miliband, who had taken a year off to study at Harvard University, apparently telephoned Mr Brown and urged him to resign over the war to force Mr Blair to quit.

But the suggestion was allegedly crushed by "dominant" Mr Balls, partly to humiliate "shy" Mr Miliband.

The claims could prove particularly damaging for Mr Balls, after leaks from a set of his personal documents highlighted his central role in rows over Mr Blair's departure from office.

There have been signs that the disclosure could have reopened old tensions between Blairites and Brownites in Mr Miliband's current team.

Posting on social networking website Twitter after the documents emerged, shadow communities secretary Caroline Flint said: "The last 5 Labour Leaders' Election Records: 0-1, 0-1, 0-2, 3-0, 0-1. Guess which one was Tony Blair? Enough said."

Although attempting to shrug off the book claims, neither Miliband camp has made much effort to suggest warm relations.

A source close to the Labour leader said: "David and Ed talked before, during and after the leadership election.

"There is no problem. This is tittle tattle and the Labour Party will be concentrating on meeting the challenges of Britain's future, not looking back to the past."

Blairite former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer conceded that Mr Miliband's troubles were not all media-generated. "He is having the sort of difficulties that you always have in trying to break through when there is a new government," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr show.

Foreign Secretary William Hague twisted the knife by suggesting Ed was performing worse than he had as Tory leader between 1997 and 2010.

"I had quite a hard time as Leader of the Opposition," Mr Hague told Sky News' Murnaghan programme. "He seems to be doing worse in terms of making progress in local elections and so on."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service and Business Support Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: By developing intimate relationships with inte...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service and Business Support Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Highly successful private company - Oundle bas...

Recruitment Genius: PA to Consultant Surgeon

£25000 - £25500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Service Manager - Franchised Dealership

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific