Labour in crisis:

David Miliband 'poised' to replace brother, say friends

Those close to the former foreign secretary say he is waiting for the Labour leader to fail

David Miliband is "waiting for his brother Ed to fail" as Labour leader and is "poised" to make another bid for the job, friends of the former foreign secretary revealed last night.

The extraordinary disclosure exposes the extent of the division between the Miliband brothers, which threatens to overshadow Labour Party politics for the next decade in an echo of the long-running enmity between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. The image of brothers at war is underlined by the first biography of the Labour leader, which begins a newspaper serialisation today.

Ed Miliband, who pipped his brother to the post last September, is faced with growing discontent from Labour MPs over his failure to set out a clear strategy and narrative. Dissent has been heightened by an unsteady performance at Prime Minister's Questions last week, when David Cameron should have been on the back foot over NHS reforms and sentencing.

A poll in The Sunday Times today shows more than two in five Labour supporters believe electing Ed Miliband was the wrong decision. The paper also claims "big beasts", including Lord Prescott and David Blunkett, are beginning to express unease about his performance.

In a further blow, the head of Britain's biggest public sector union, Dave Prentis, who backed Ed Miliband in the contest, rounded on the Labour leadership for failing to stand up for the NHS. In an interview with The Independent on Sunday, the Unison general secretary suggested the Labour leader can no longer count on his union's automatic support when he said he still has "a lot to get right" and should abandon the strategy of only issuing "reasonable statements".

Last night, a friend of David Miliband told The IoS that relations are very poor, and that the MP was still hungry for the top job. David Miliband has turned down offers of several posts under his brother, leaving the impression that he wanted to retreat from frontline politics.

But the friend said: "David definitely wants it still. He is waiting for Ed to fail. He thinks the coalition will go the full term, so Ed has plenty of time to fail." There is no suggestion of David Miliband's planning a direct challenge to his brother, but his aides are mobilising in the expectation of his brother losing the party's support.

The Mail on Sunday, which is serialising the biography, Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader, claims David Miliband effectively accuses his 'ruthless' younger brother of lying about the way he stole the Labour crown from him.

The book, by James Macintyre and Mehdi Hasan, also claims David is scathing about his brother's performance, and that he thinks Ed is "heading in the wrong direction". The brothers are said to speak rarely, communicating mainly through officials. However, an aide to Ed Miliband yesterday insisted: "They talk regularly. They talked before, during and after the leadership contest. They are brothers first and politicians second."

There was discomfort among Ed allies when the speech David Miliband would have made to the party, had he won, was leaked to The Guardian, in what was described as a "highly provocative act" by Labour insiders. The leak, an apparent attempt to show MPs what "might have been", seemed to come from someone close to the former foreign secretary.

In his IoS interview Mr Prentis, whose union has given more than £800,000 to Labour since Ed Miliband took the helm, said the Shadow Cabinet "still believe they are in government and therefore have got to make reasonable statements".

He went on: "They are not playing their part strongly in opposition, which is what we'd want to do – hone in on what the Tories are doing and show the deficiencies in it." Mr Prentis said Labour had only "belatedly" begun standing up for the NHS against the threat posed by government reforms. "We were running that campaign for six months before we heard anything from the Labour Party."

Mr Prentis also revealed that he has a £30m war chest for "enormous" industrial action involving all 1.4 million Unison members in schools, hospitals and councils this autumn.

Ed Miliband will attempt to change the political weather with a speech tomorrow promising a different approach on welfare reform and calling for a "new era of responsibility" across British society.

The Labour leader will say his party must change tack on policy to win back voters who have deserted Labour. Acknowledging the New Labour approach to wealth creation was right, he will say: "I'm not only relaxed about [people] getting rich, I applaud it."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own