It was brother versus brother, said Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian. Last weekend’s election for the leadership of Britain’s Labor Party was a neck-and-neck race between David Miliband, a former foreign minister and the favorite, and his younger brother, Ed. Ultimately, Ed triumphed by the tiniest of margins, but in victory he was left with a “family values” problem. The Right can now easily brand Ed as “somehow other”—not because he is of Polish descent and is Labor’s first Jewish leader, and not because he has yet to marry the mother of his child. The trouble stems from his perceived estrangement from David. “The one thing British voters know about him is that he was prepared to slay his older brother.”
Ed tried to make a good show of magnanimity, said Terence Blacker in The Independent. In fact, he tried a bit too hard. “Within seconds of being elected,” he took the microphone and told his defeated brother David, in front of all the assembled delegates, “I so, so love you.” Two problems here. First, declaring love for someone in public is invariably “an expression of some kind of guilt,” as when Bill Clinton spoke of his love for Hillary during Monicagate. “The hope in both cases is that a massive love bomb of nuclear proportions will obliterate any trace of bad behavior.” Second, doubling up on the intensifier—so, so—“has the paradoxical effect of lessening the sentence’s sincerity.” If you really loved him, Ed, you wouldn’t need to be so insistent about it.
The family drama was beside the point, said Michael Brown, also in The Independent. “The main reason Ed won was thanks to his lustrous, gelled, black hair.” David was defeated “because of that tuft of white hair above his forehead.” The new reality, you see, is that “anyone with white hair—or no hair—now has no future in even attempting to lead a political party.” Our prime minister, Tory leader David Cameron, is but 44. His partner in government, Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, is 43. David Miliband couldn’t possibly hope to lead Labor at his dilapidated old age of 45. That 40-year-old Ed would triumph was a foregone conclusion. Labor voted for Ed simply because in today’s Britain, politics has been entirely given over to “the wretched cult of callow political youth.”
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Actually, most Labor Party members voted for David, not Ed, said Rachel Sylvester in The Times. Ed only won because of the outdated rules of party conferences, which allow trade unionists—“many of whom are not even Labor members”—to vote for the party’s leader. The party had wanted to go with David, who would have taken it in a direction more akin to Tony Blair’s “New Labor” centrism. It was the trade unionists who pushed the party toward the leftist politics of the younger Miliband, the one known as “Red Ed.” With a Tory government in power, is it really wise for the Labor Party to position itself even further to the left? “Never mind the psychodrama, this is now a party with a serious identity crisis.”
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