Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ed Miliband Wins By a Hair

Younger Miliband top second choice on Labour ballot

After months of underwhelming campaigning, the British Labour Party has finally named its successor to Gordon Brown.

Ed Miliband accumulated enough second-choice votes on the preferential ballot to edge out his older brother David by less than 1%.

In a rather unambitious victory speech, Miliband pledged to lead his party back to power.

"My aim is to return our party to power," he announced. "This is a tough challenge. It is a long journey. But our party has made the first step in electing a leader from a new generation."

But instead of merely offering knee-jerk reaction to the coalition government of the Tories and Liberal Democrats, Miliband has promised a comparatively collaborative approach to government.

"As well as setting out an alternative when the government gets it wrong, we will support it when it is right," he continued.

Yet at the conclusion of a leadership campaign in which moving beyond Tony Blair's famed New Labour was often a central theme, Miliband more or less promised to re-deliver the magic that created New Labour.

"We have a lot of ground to make up if we are to rebuild the broad coalition of support that swept us to power in 1997," he announced. "We must never again lose touch with the mainstream of our country."

Of course, claiming an eventual margin of victory of scarcely more than 1%, Ed Miliband can hardly claim to represent the mainstream of his own party, let alone of Britain.

However Ed Miliband chooses to approach this detail, he may want to send a thank-you card to Ed Balls.

The ballot-by-ballot breakdown of the preferential vote shows that, until Ed Balls was eliminated, the younger Miliband trailed his older brother David by what eventually turned out to be the margin of victory.

It wasn't until the final ballot that the vote shifted in favour of the younger Miliband.

The intrigue of the preferential ballot is that it allows a candidate to effectively play the role of kingmaker without having to directly endorse another candidate.

Ed Miliband has already offered his brother David the key role of shadow Chancellor. It's certainly fair at this point to wonder what Miliband is prepared to offer Balls.

In the meantime, Britain -- and the rest of the world -- will wait to see what Ed Miliband has in store for his party.

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