25 Sep 2010

Ed Miliband is new Labour leader

Ed Miliband beats brother and four other candidates to become new leader of the Labour party. Political Editor Gary Gibbon says the Tories will go hard on Ed being the ‘prisoner of the trade unions’.

Ed Miliband defeated older brother David by a small majority of 50.65 per cent to 49.35 per cent.

The shadow energy secretary appears to have benefited from a last-minute surge of support before voting in the postal ballot closed on Wednesday, leading to the bookies making him favourite yesterday, after trailing David Miliband throughout the four-month contest to find a successor to Gordon Brown.

Ed swung the contest with his support from the trade unions and grassroots activists, after David had won a majority of support from Labour’s MPs at Westminster.

Ed Miliband thanked the conference for giving him the “amazing honour” of leading the Labour party.

I know we lost trust, I know we lost touch, I know we need to change. Today a new generation has taken charge of Labour – a new generation that understands the core of change.

He said: “You have put your trust in me and I am determined to repay that trust to you. Every hour of every day of my leadership I will seek to repay that trust. The first way I need to repay that trust is by uniting our party and taking it forward together.

He told the Labour conference “We lost the election and we lost it badly.

“My message to the country is this…I know we lost trust, I know we lost touch, I know we need to change. Today a new generation has taken charge of Labour – a new generation that understands the core of change.”

Ed Miliband is new Labour leader (Reuters)
Ed Miliband - 'prisoner of the trade unions'?
The Tories will go hard on Ed Miliband being the prisoner of the trade unions, writes Channel 4 News Political Editor Gary Gibbon.

He'll be watched like a hawk after a result that delivered him victory only thanks to the trade union section.

There were gasps in the hall as the black block in the graph marking the trade union contribution to his victory seemed to get bigger in every round.

I've just had a look at the turnout for the big 3 trade unions that backed him in the summer - the GMB, Unite and Unison. If you average the 3 together you get a collective turnout of 8.3 per cent in these three unions.

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The crown was secured in the fourth round of counting in Manchester, after the votes of eliminated candidates Diane Abbott, Andy Burnham and Ed Balls were redistributed to take Ed Miliband’s support past the crucial 50 per cent mark.

He campaigned on a platform of “turning the page on New Labour” and his victory will be seen as a move to the left following the Blair/Brown era.

However, he has rejected opponents’ characterisation of him as “red Ed” and is likely to continue to court the centre-ground support which took the party to power in 1997.

His brother and opponent, David Miliband told Channel 4 News: “You don’t do things in life unless you know there are two outcomes and this is Ed’s day and I offer him the warmest possible congratulations and we’re absolutely determined to give the Tories a run for their money.”

Third place candidate Ed Balls told Channel 4 News: “The Labour party has got our new leader Ed Miliband, because he won the contest and he fought a great campaign.

“All of us have been round the country and Ed won. The rules of the contest are we’re a party which elects its leader with the votes of the MPs and its party members and trade union members. Ed on every stage of the election, you saw, was catching up and just at the last he pipped David Miliband.

“We’re going to unite behind him. He’s the new leader of the Labour party. I think he’s going to do a brilliant job. He’s got my 100 per cent support.”

Mr Miliband now faces the challenge of restoring Labour’s fortunes and mounting a credible challenge to the coalition Government led by David Cameron.

David Cameron called Ed Miliband to congratulate him on his new job.

But speaking earlier in the Daily Telegraph the prime minister said: “They both (Miliband brothers) face the same central question, which is what would you do? We have this biggest deficit in Britain’s peace-time history and they seem to have no answer…

“They’re both part of the team that got us into this mess. In this long leadership debate I haven’t heard a single suggestion about how we might deal with the deficit.”

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown addressed the conference and paid tribute to the party and the candidates.

“We are Labour, we will always be Labour and we will never be anything other than Labour.”

“We are Labour, we will always be Labour and we will never be anything other than Labour.”

He then thanked the party, members, councillors, constituents and trade unionists. He then thanked his predecessor Tony Blair, but joked about this summer’s memoirs in which Blair was somewhat critical of his leadership skills.

He said the new leader will have his “full and unequivocal support”.

Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman told the conference “today we turn the page to a new chapter in our history”.

She said that “though the challenge is great, the party is strong”, and claimed that Labour is already winning council seats off the Tories and the Liberal Democrats. She then told delegates that 35,000 more members had joined the party.

“We’ve been strengthened by the leadership contest”, she said.

Labour reacts to its new leader
MPs at the Manchester conference reacted to the news and are now looking to the future under Ed Miliband.

Former Chancellor Alistair Darling told Channel 4 News Ed Miliband will have “our wholehearted support”.

Former Chancellor Alistair Darling told Channel 4 News Ed Miliband will have “our wholehearted support”.

Trade union boss of Unite Derek Simpson denied the unions had lent on members to vote for Ed Miliband. He told Channel 4 News: “The party got its man. Trade union party members…thanks to the people that voted for him, it weren’t just us. It’s a free secret ballot.”

Jim Murphy MP, who only voted for David Miliband, told Channel 4 News: “This is a new start for Labour and the road to the general election begins here. This is day one of Labour’s fightback against the Tories. Ed has a great energy and passion and I believe we can win the next election.

“Being Labour leader is a huge responsibility and he is carrying on the flame of generations past, so that the next generation does not have to grow up knowing only a Tory government.”

Stephen Timms MP, who nominated Ed Miliband, told Channel 4 News: “It’s a very exciting result, though nervwracking.

“It’s a tough job and very difficult job. I’m convinced he (Ed Miliband) will do it well. I’ve very much looking forward to working with him and the rest of the team.”

Oona King, who lost her bid to be Labour’s London Mayor candidate yesterday, told Channel 4 News: “I’m very happy, I was an Ed supporter. But I’m very sad for David.”

Andrew Campbell, co-chair of Manchester Labour Students said the result was “amazing”.

“I am absolutely delighted. It was a really good speech and he did what he had to do.

“The media’s got to remember that affiliates are not just Unions. We voted under affiliates as Labour students. The next few days are crucial”, he said.

Rachael Saunders, a councillor in Tower Hamlets who supported Ed Balls said: “It’s remarkably close, which is challenging for the new leader. I’m please Ed Balls came third – it’s a respectable showing for a strong campaign.

“We await the Leaders’ speech on Tuesday which has to be a strong speech.”

Simon Jeffreys from Lewisham said he was disappointed with the result as he supported David Miliband. He told Channel 4 News: “We need a leader. The worst thing that has happened is being without one for the last four months.”

Roland Horne from Holborn and St Pancras CLP said he was delighted because he supported Ed and “I’m just delighted it’s over”.

Ed offers good unity; David’s problem is he was a victim of his own success.

“Ed offers good unity; David’s problem is he was a victim of his own success.”

“It is now time for a new break for the party.”

John Parks MSP voted for Ed Miliband. He told Channel 4 News it was an “easy decision actually”.

He said: “We need someone to grow with the party and for the party to grow with them. Ed also knows and understands Scotland. I supported him pretty early, and he grew through the campaign.

“Whatever happens he has showed he has a big future in the Labour party.”

Sybill Feilding from Nottinghamshire County Council voted for Ed Miliband. She told Channel 4 news: “We got an opportunity to meet with him.

“He offers an opportunity to unite the party and move us forward.”

Her husband Ray, a Constituency Labour Party delegate from Bassetlaw also voted for Ed: “He can reposition the Labour party where it should be at the centre”, he said.

Daniella Shaw-Gabay, from Brent CLP, told Channel 4 News she did not get her ballot paper but she would have voted for Ed Miliband as a “change” and a “fresh face”.

Tracey Cheetham from Barnsley said she voted for Ed Miliband because he “is the candidate who will truly unite the party”. Joe Mann MBE, a delegate for the Community Trade Union said he voted for David Miliband because “he is most likely to win a general election for us.”

Mary Foulkes from Bermondsey and Old Southwark CLP said Ed Miliband had the “right policies to combat the coalition” and that he “wasn’t there to vote for the Iraq war”.

Andrew and Lauren, co-chairs of Manchester Labour Students, both voted for Ed Miliband: “People associated with David Miliband didn’t seem to get that times had changed,” Andrew said. Lauren added that Ed “had the Charisma”.

And Rachael Saunders, a councillor from Tower Hamlets Council, told Channel 4 News she had voted for Ed Balls. “He had a very clear analysis of why we lost the election and how we can win the next one. He has the ability to talk to voters in areas like mine.”

Brown’s successor
Duties will begin straight away for Ed Miliband.

He will be interviewed by BBC’s Andrew Marr Show tomorrow morning, before the party’s conference begins in earnest.

The new leader will then address conference on Tuesday afternoon in the headline speech. The four defeated candidates now need to decide whether they wish to serve under the new leader in the shadow cabinet.

Labour elects its senior frontbenchers, which means that the defeated four now have to decide whether to run, with nominations opening on tomorrow and closing on Wednesday.

This means they will need to persuade members to vote for them to be shadow ministers, and the results will be announced on 7 October.