29 Sep 2010

The Milibands: sibling psychology

Noel and Liam, Venus and Serena – and now David and Ed. As David Miliband steps down from frontline politics, a psychologist tells Channel 4 News his brother Ed will be “relieved” by the decision.

Successful siblings can be found in the world of sport, music and politics.

Noel and Liam; Venus and Serena; Ed and David.

But now David Miliband has decided to leave frontline politics, leaving the coast clear for younger brother Ed Miliband.

The senior sibling told Channel 4 News: “My instinct is that it is going to be very hard for the party and for Ed if I stay. It’s best for Ed and for the party if he has an open field.”

Dirk Flower is a psychologist and expert in family therapy. He told Channel 4 News David Miliband is capable of putting the defeat behind him: “He’s mature enough to say ‘this was the race, I lost this race’ and not to see it as a brothers thing but more as a competition between two teams that they were leading and for various reasons he didn’t win the race. Then he can move onto another project. I think he will have the maturity and ability to do that.”

It is only four days since Ed Miliband beat his brother to the Labour party’s top job.

Dirk Flower said, in his opinion, the younger brother will be “relieved” by today’s decision: “He is not having to worry about competition within his own ranks from his brother which then sets up dual loyalties..so therefore from Ed’s point of view as much as he may like his brother to do certain things because of his capabilities, from a loyalty point of view he doesn’t have to deal with family situations and conflicts at the same time.”

Despite months of intense rivalry Dirk is confident the Milibands’ relationship can eventually recover: “I think it will take time for them to get it back to where they were before because they’ve put a lot of energy and commitment into their campaigns and that takes it out of you. It takes a lot of effort and they will need time to adjust to the new situation.”