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UK Politics

Oh, brother... Ed may not like it but David Miliband is speaking out (again)


Whether his younger brother likes it or not, David Miliband is slowly returning to the political spotlight.

Last month, writing in New Statesman, he warned Labour against pursuing "reassurance" politics – a message seen as barely coded criticism of Ed Miliband's leadership.

Now the former Foreign Secretary is to chair a series of meetings discussing how to win back the former voters that rejected Labour at the last election.

Although David has insisted he wants to break free of the "soap opera" surrounding the family, his comments will be scrutinised for evidence he is calling for a change of strategy.

One of the Commons seminars – provocatively entitled "how did we get into this mess and how do we get out of it?" – will echo fears on the Labour Right that the party has still not faced up to the scale of its defeat in 2010.

Other talks in the Labour's Future lecture series will focus on the Tories ("know your enemy"), Britain's place in Europe and combating extremism.

The sessions have been set up with his close ally and former deputy Labour leadership contender, the Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas.

The older sibling had been careful to maintain a low profile for a year after his surprise defeat, explaining that he did not want to provide a permanent distraction for his brother.

At last September's party conference, which marked the first anniversary of the contest, David appeared at a fringe event before heading for a meeting overseas. It was the minimum he could do without creating headlines accusing him of a snub.

Friends of each brother insist the "psychodrama" between them is waning, although no one denies family tensions persist.

But since last autumn Miliband senior is beginning to display signs of reviving political confidence.

He addressed an earlier series of seminars with Mr Cruddas and is contributing more in the Commons.

His public interventions are still rare – and hazardous, as the New Statesman episode proved. In fact the article had originally been written in drier language, but was livened up at the request of the magazine's editor, including the much-analysed reference to "reassurance" politics.

David's path back?

September 2010

After losing the leadership race to his brother, David Miliband (above) says he'll back Ed "from the backbenches".

July 2011

Announces a speaking tour of 20 British universities.

February 2, 2012

Writes an essay for New Statesman in which he lays out a seven-point plan for Labour.

February 6, 2012

Launches a major report on youth unemployment.

Richard Hall