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UK Politics

Ever since Cain smote Abel, siblings and rivalry have gone together

The notion of sibling rivalry is at least as old as scripture: Cain slew Abel in a jealous fit over who had lavished the best gifts on God and gave us the first murder in history. The contest between the Miliband brothers is, therefore, full of symbolism. Though they are unlikely to enjoy the comparison with Adam and Eve's offspring, they can take comfort from being by no means the first, and certainly not the last.

Twins Romulus and Remus, the legend has it, founded Rome in 753BC but couldn't stop quarrelling. Remus mocked Romulus over the size of a perimeter wall, got a whack on the head for his efforts, died and the city was named after Romulus.

It didn't come to blows between brothers Adi and Rudolf Dassler who in happier days spent their summer holidays patching shoes. A beautiful brotherly business partnership might have blossomed until they found they couldn't reconcile political differences stemming from the Second World War. Adi set up Adidas and Rudi set up Puma, triggering the start of a race for the biggest share in the global sports shoe market.

It is not known what Sigmund Freud made of his grandsons. But artist Lucian didn't even show for brother Sir Clement's funeral last year, after apparently more than 50 years of locked lips. The root cause for the impasse was never fully established, only that at some stage Lucian had left empty-handed after asking his brother for a loan.

Writers Christopher and Peter Hitchens, meanwhile, appear to communicate only through newspaper columns. A major point of division has been Peter's belief in God – or the "supernatural" as atheist Christopher once called it. Peter recently wrote that the pair had made peace after the "longest quarrel of my life".

How much would a mano-a-mano fight between Oasis brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher at Caesar's Palace be worth? Not $100m. Tour tales have it that they've swung a few punches. In 1995, they released Wibbling Rivalry – a special 7in recording of them squabbling. By last year, that joke wasn't funny any more.