LABOUR leader Ed Miliband joked this week about a childhood spat with his brother David over a football.
He explained to a hushed conference that Miliband the elder had become so enraged about the theft of the ball that he threatened to privatise his sibling’s train set.
Now as David Miliband’s career in mainstream Labour politics lies in ruins, it appears Miliband the younger has once again escaped with his brother’s prize possession.
Despite the repeated platitudes each has paid to the other, both of these deeply serious men must feel aghast at how their fraternal relationship has unexpectedly become elevated to dominate the political landscape.
David, for so long the bright young thing of the Labour movement, finds himself pipped at the post by his younger brother.
But only once has he let his mask slip to reveal his deep disappointment.
His stony face was telling as brother Ed tore apart Labour’s decision to go to war in Iraq.
Miliband senior was a key part of the government which took what proved to be a deeply divisive decision for the Labour Party.
David’s decision to sacrifice himself has put paid to the headlines about fraternal feuding that would have inevitably dogged the new shadow cabinet.
With Miliband senior out of the picture, for the time being at least, his younger brother now finds he has the political train set all to himself.
David walked away from frontline politics yesterday, announcing that he will not stand for election to his brother’s shadow cabinet.
In a letter to the chairman of his constituency Labour Party, Miliband said he would remain as MP for South Shields.
But he said Labour would be more likely to be able to make “a fresh start” under its new leader if he moved on to the backbenches.
“I genuinely believe that I can best serve Ed, the party and the country from a new position,” he wrote.
In his letter to Alan Donnelly, David Miliband said his continued presence as a member of the shadow cabinet would be a “distraction” from his brother’s leadership of the party.
His dramatic announcement came as nominations closed for the election of 19 members of the new Labour shadow cabinet.
The new Labour leader welcomed his brother’s “thoughtful and gracious” announcement and said: “My door is always open for him to serve in the future.”
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