Brothers Milibank Vie For Labour's Leadership Post
DAVID GREENE, Host:
In Britain, the Labour Party's recent defeat at the polls has left it pondering the future. Vicki Barker reports from London on the party's search for a new direction and new leaders.
VICKI BARKER: After 13 years in power, Britain's Labour Party is back in the political wilderness. Party members now have to decide who is likeliest to lead it out.
M: I'm standing for the leadership because I believe that I can lead Labour to rebuild itself as the great reforming champion of social and economic change in this country.
BARKER: The perceived front-runner, David Miliband - until this month's election defeat, he was Britain's foreign minister.
U: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Ed Miliband.
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BARKER: Then there's David's younger brother, Ed Miliband, Gordon Brown's former energy secretary. In his campaign kick-off speech, Ed Miliband took a subtle swipe at his old boss's sometimes robotic management style.
M: We became more like technocrats and less like transformers of our politics and our country.
BARKER: Both Milibands are clean-cut, well-spoken, center-left academic standouts who hitched their wagons early to the rising political star that came to be called New Labour. Sunder Katwala, of the left-leaning think tank the Fabian Society, insists there is a difference between the two candidates. Really.
M: I think Ed Miliband is probably a little bit to the left of his brother politically, although David Miliband is somewhat to the left of Tony Blair. So I don't accept that we have a sort of Blair-like, Brown-ite thing.
BARKER: Hilary Benn was a cabinet minister under both Blair and Brown.
M: The union movement is a very important part of the Labour constituency. But if we're going to win again, then we have to attract back the votes that we gained in 1997, and which we lost at the election that just took place.
BARKER: There are six contenders. Four candidates - Ed Balls, Andy Burnham and the brothers Miliband - all served in Gordon Brown's cabinet. New Labour veterans all.
M: All of the front-runners are really nice, and they'll make great leaders of the Labour Party. But they all look the same. And they're all saying the same thing.
BARKER: That's another contender, Diane Abbott, who in 1987 became the first black woman elected to parliament. She says she best represents those union workers who could cast the decisive votes.
GREENE: outrage. Longtime Labour politician Jon Cruddas.
M: I've known David Miliband for 20 years, known Ed Balls for 20 years, but I don't know what they stand for, you know? And I've known them. If you're a new MP, just walked through the gates, you know, you should be given - you have to be given more time.
BARKER: For NPR News, I'm Vicki Barker in London.
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