David is the U.K. foreign secretary, his younger brother Ed is the climate and energy secretary. Two perceptions about the two brothers hold sway in the Westminster rookery, the last few years. One says that David is a prime minister in waiting while Ed, lives in his shadow. The other maintains that David lacks the necessary skills for No 10, but Ed possesses them in abundance and one day will be Labour’s leader and Britain’s prime minister.
David and Ed are the children of Ralph Miliband, probably the most charismatic and influential socialist of his generation. With John Saville (his real name was John Stamatopoulos) he launched back in the 1950-60s two radical journals, The New Reasoner and the New Left Review, while later played a prominent role in the publication of the Socialist Register. Their mother, Marion Kozak, was also a left-wing intellectual.
Both brothers have been politically active and fully engaged with the Labour Party since their early teens. David is regarded as more serious and single-minded; Ed is warm, friendly and a brilliant communicator.
I am not going to go through their political career. It is available everywhere on the internet. But, I believe very strongly that both brothers will play a significant role in the British political scene, in the near future.
Last July, Ed Miliband announced the publication of “The UK’s Low Carbon Transition Plan”, which will convert the United Kingdom into a permanent low carbon and sustainable economy. Last week the two brothers presented in the Science Museum an interactive map that illustrate the catastrophic effects that will result if the world fails to limit the global temperature rise to 2oC. With less than 50 days left before agreement must be reached, in Copenhagen, the two brothers try to lead the way and make UK one of the important players in the fight against climate change.
Yesterday, David Miliband, delivered the most pro-European speech ever heard in Britain. He argued that it is Britain’s “national interest” to play a leading role in Europe, but also warned that Europe is losing the fight — becoming marginalised by a Chinese-American “G2” elite — to be a big global player. He said that the 27 states need to decide soon whether they want Europe to be a bureaucracy talking to itself, or a player.
About the EU’s relations with the USA, he said
“Commitments to human rights, economic and political freedom, the equal worth of all, are not “western” values; but they do need the west to defend and advance them. If a Transatlantic relationship is not standing up for democratic governance around the world who will? Unless Europe and America put human rights alongside trade and security, who will?”
The speech is long but worth reading. As I did so, I remembered something that I had underlined in a book several years ago.
“In all countries, there are people, in numbers large or small, who are moved by the vision of a new social order in which democracy, egalitarianism and cooperation – the essential values of socialism – would be the prevailing principles of social organisation. It is in the growth of their numbers and in the success of their struggles that lies the best hope for humankind.”
Ralph Miliband, “Socialism for a Sceptical Age”, 1994