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Get behind Ed, urges David Miliband

David Miliband has pleaded with Labour not to turn the leadership struggle into the kind of "soap opera" that disfigured the Blair and Brown era.

Making his first appearance on the conference stage in Manchester since his narrow defeat, the shadow foreign secretary called on the party to unite behind his younger brother Ed.

But he also fuelled speculation over his own future by failing to commit to serving on Labour's top team.

Mr Miliband received a warm welcome when he emerged to face the party that rejected him, with his brother joining the standing ovation from the platform.

But he made clear that he had no intention of being a thorn in the side of the new leadership despite his obvious disappointment. While he had been "100% committed" to fighting for the leadership, he had gone into the contest "reconciled to the prospect" that he might lose, he said.

Referring to the Blair-Brown conflict that constantly threatened to tear the party apart during its 13 years in power, he insisted: "No more cliques, no more factions, no more soap opera - one united Labour Party taking on a divided Government. We have a great new leader and we all have to get behind him. I am really, really, really proud. I am so proud of my campaign. I am so proud of my party. But above all I am incredibly proud of my brother."

Mr Miliband has until 5pm on Wednesday to decide whether to put forward his name for the shadow cabinet elections, which are expected to involve 50 or more MPs chasing 19 slots around Mr Miliband's top table. The results of the poll are due on October 7.

Ed Miliband has said he regarded Alistair Darling's plan to halve Britain's deficit within four years as a "starting point" which he hoped to "improve" on, leading to speculation that he might scale back the cuts envisaged by the former chancellor.

Mr Darling, who is standing down from the shadow cabinet, told delegates he was confident Mr Miliband would maintain a "credible" plan which kept Labour on the "centre ground". "We cannot ignore the deficit. That would be as foolish as standing back and doing nothing when the crisis hit. We had in place tough plans to halve borrowing within four years," he said.

Delivering what is likely to be his final speech to conference as a frontbencher, Mr Darling went on: "Our approach is measured - and balanced. What we did over the last two years has worked. That's why our economy is growing, why borrowing is coming down. To abandon that balanced approach, as the Tories and Liberals are doing, will put tens of thousands of jobs at risk, and hit the living standards of millions of families in this country."


From Belfast Telegraph