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?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Games Developer - HTML5

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Product Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to on-going expansion, this leading provid...

Recruitment Genius: Shift Leaders - Front of House Staff - Full Time and Part Time

£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a family ...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works