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Updated: September 25, 2010 22:49 IST

Ed Miliband elected Labour leader

Hasan Suroor
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Ed Miliband. File photo: AP.
Ed Miliband. File photo: AP.

Former Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Saturday suffered an upset defeat when his younger brother, Ed Miliband was elected new leader of the Labour Party in a closely contested election.

He replaces Gordon Brown who resigned in May after the party’s humiliating general election defeat.

Mr Miliband, 40, was secretary of state for energy and climate change in Mr Brown’s cabinet and is regarded on the Left of the party. He won by the narrowest of margins mostly on the strength of votes from the members of Labour-affiliated trade unions.

Others in the fray were former education secretary Ed Balls, former Health Secretary Andy Burnham and Diane Abbot, a left-wing MP.

In his post-victory remarks, Mr Miliband vowed to ``unite’’ the party and paid tribute to his brother saying he had ``extraordinary respect’’ for him and ``loved him’’.

"Today we draw a line under this contest and move forward united as a team,’’ he told delegates at the party’s annual conference in Manchester.

Right from the start, it was a two-horse race between the two ``Milibands’’ but until Friday Mr David Miliband had been the hot favourite. He was considered more experienced and authoritative and best placed to challenge the government and develop the party as a credible opposition.

But in the closing hours, Mr Ed Miliband managed to gather enough momentum to pip his brother at the post largely on the strength of second and third preference votes. The race was so tight that it went into the fourth round with Mr Ed Miliband winning narrowly.

The perception of Mr David Miliband as an Blairite appeared to have cost him dear.

There was much speculation about the impact the result would have on the brothers’ personal relationship which was said to have come under strain during the campaign. Reports had even suggested that in the event of a defeat the elder brother may quit frontline politics altogether.

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