Belfast Telegraph

So, how is your brother meant to feel now, Ed?

By Gail Walker

From the moment the result of the Labour leadership election was announced, it just felt wrong.

Mmm Ed, not David how how weird It's like renting a DVD of Ghost to find out you're in some parallel universe and it’s not Patrick Swayze but his brother Don doing all that potter's wheel stuff with Demi or sitting down to watch Duck Soup and finding Gummo Marx getting all the best lines, while Groucho’s the dull, straight man. Or it's Paul Ross who gets his own TV shows while Jonathan is reduced to giving “views” about The Sweeney in order to scratch a living.

Ditto Ed last Saturday. It's just not right.

And, yes, I know that's not logical or fair but families aren't logical — or, indeed, fair. Neither are the loyalties of kinship. Ed's challenge and eventual triumph over David is only logical in that spooky Mr Spock way that so used to infuriate Dr McCoy. (“Damn your blue blood, Spock. We're talking about Jim” or, in this case, David.)

I don't know if Ed will measure up to Cameron at the despatch box or if his slight shift to the left will re-energise Labour's base or if Ed will be the plaything of union barons blah de blah. But a man who could so publicly humiliate his big brother ...?

As the results were read out in that dreary Manchester conference hall, and Ed emerged the narrow winner, I couldn't help but feel more than a tad sorry for David. This was quickly followed by the thought ‘I wouldn't fancy a get-together at the Milibands' this year. In fact, I wouldn't fancy get-togethers at the Milibands full stop — for a couple of generations at least.

Which is where the creepy bit comes in. Unfair though it may be, many will feel that Ed has destroyed his own brother's dream. And it was more than some politico's idle daydream. David was the favourite, the man for years marked out as — cometh the hour — the “natural” leader of the party. His claims had real substance and then in comes not another politico, not an ideological opponent, but his own brother Ed

And Ed's done it, largely, by portraying himself as everything non-David. Now that's gotta hurt — regardless of the bland “photo opportunity unity” currently on display.

It's not even a case of good brother/bad brother. David wasn't running on a “Kill the Newborn. Let's Make the Next Election the Last One Ever” ticket. This wasn’t Cain and Abel. Give or take the odd nuance, the occasional different emphasis, they're both cut from the same cloth.

So, like, why did you do it, Ed? Pure ambition? A determination of a younger sibling to prove that his wishes are just as valid as those of his older brother? Was it really just a bit of brotherly rough-housing that went a bit too far? (“Aw, Mum, he won't let me pretend to be Prime Minister.”)

As it is, it's game over for David. If Ed is a roaring success, he'll be there for a long, long time and if he's a crashing disaster the party won't want to hear the name “Miliband” when it comes to choosing a new leader.

Yes, politics is in theory about policies not personalities but this is more the stuff for the psychiatrist's couch than position papers: the heir presumptive to the party (the family?) leadership ousted by the younger brother.

Of course, many will say Ed's got his own rights and why shouldn't he have exactly the same dream as his older brother.

True, but family relationships are delicate things. Goodness knows trying to seize control of the remote can be a cause for out-and-out civil war in our house. Croaking your own brother's lifelong ambition ...? (And why have the same dreams and ambitions anyway? Isn't that a bit odd.”)

In this age of Jeremy Kyle and Oprah Winfrey we're all armchair psychologists now. And the question in many minds will be — as Ed rambles on in his way about public spending or voting reform or the future of the Labour Party — “That's all very well, Ed. But what the real story here?”

Let's just hope it's worth it in the long run ...

Belfast Telegraph

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