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David Miliband launches Labour leadership bid

By Felicity Spector

Updated on 17 May 2010

Britain needs a return to idealism, David Miliband declares, as he launches his official campaign against his brother Ed to become the next leader of the Labour party.

David Miliband launches his campaign

The former foreign secretary David miliband, 44, told constituency supporters in South Shields that Labour had lost the election because "our conversation with the public broke down" while saying the priority in opposition was to reform, repair and rebuild.

Miliband described idealism as "the lifeblood of our party" and said the job of politics was to tackle injustice, at home and abroad.

He described himself as a traditionalist in one way: his belief in the power of ideas to change the country - and talked about his own parents, who fled Nazi persecution during the second world war - but retained their passionate desire to harness ideas - in order to change the world for the better.

Darshna Soni writes from the launch
It's the one question David Miliband didn't want to get drawn on, but the one thing all journalists wanted to ask about. How does it feel to stand against your own brother?

I watched him this morning as he officially launched his bid for the Labour leadership. Many feel Ed is the better communicator. It's true that David doesn't look as comfortable in front of the camera, but I found that in person he's friendlier and funnier than he comes across on TV.

His local party certainly loves him. I spoke to three pensioners who nick name themselves the 'Golden Girls': best friends who had joined the party back in 1945. Kathy Brown told me that they were very proud of David and pleased with their free bus pass, which means they can follow him around the constituency.

I also spoke to Mr Ahmed, from the local Bangladeshi community. He was pleased that Mr Miliband specifically mentioned the contributions his community have made locally.

Mr Ahmed and I happened to be one of only three non-white people in the room. Given the recent debate about the lack of diversity in politics (and political reporting) I decided to ask the would-be leader about this.

Freshly back from maternity leave, I asked him how I should explain to my baby daughter why politics is still too male and too pale. "She should join a political party," he answered, "and fight for change".

Something I remember being told myself over 15 years ago.

He defended Labour's record over the last 13 years, and the achievements of former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown saying every community in Britain was now richer, better and fairer.

The Blair-Brown era is over, he said - we must not fight the battles of the past. "This is a new era...which needs new ideas, and seeks new possibilities," Miliband continued describing it as a time for "Next Labour" - which would build a real, popular movement for change.

At this early stage, David Miliband is favourite to win the leadership election with two polls yesterday suggesting he had the support of 32 per cent of voters - that's far more than any of his potential rivals.

His brother Ed, 40, is the only other candidate standing so far - describing himself as well equipped to "reach out and understand people's lives".

Other senior Labour figures, such as Ed Balls and Andy Burnham, are expected to enter the race later this week.

The Miliband brothers say they won't try to smear each other during the contest although their mother - a party member - will have to make a difficult choice.

But it'll be up to the whole of Labour's electoral college to decide - a candidate needs the backing of MPs, grassroots members and trade unions to become the next leader.

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