Britain's opposition Labor party elects Ed Miliband as new leader

08:28, September 26, 2010      

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The British Labor party, which was in power for 13 years until election defeat in May this year, Saturday chose Ed Miliband as its new leader.

Ed Miliband triumphed over his older brother David in a tight result, winning by just over 1 percent, taking 50.65 percent of the vote, to his brother's 49.35 percent.

Ed Miliband said in a victory speech at the annual party conference in the northern city of Manchester that he would unite the party and take it forward, "I heard the call for change as I went round the country in the election campaign -- I get it and I understand the need for change -- I know we have to change."

He said his party had failed to understand what voters wanted on wages, immigration, and housing. He also criticized the decision by the last Labor government to back the war in Iraq " which led to an appalling loss of trust for us (the Labor party)".

The Labor party's leadership election process is complicated. It gives one third of the vote to members, one third to trade unions, and the final third to members of parliament (MPs), who are elected lawmakers.

The lowest polling candidates are progressively removed once votes are counted and their votes are redistributed to the others based on second preferences to produce a winner.

Ed Miliband had secured the support of the three largest unions, and this helped him to victory over brother David, who had more support among MPs.

Ed Miliband's strong support from the trade unions saw him to victory, but could create problems for him over the coming years as the unions set themselves on collision course with the new coalition government, which is set to cut the current record public spending deficit of 153 billion pounds (240 billion U.S. dollars) by 111 billion pounds before the next general election in 2015.

Cuts of up to 40 percent in spending in some government department will see job losses throughout the public sector, where more than 50 percent of workers are trade unionists.

The political battleground will be dominated for the next few years by these cuts, and how Ed Miliband handles his party's response and his relationship with his union supporters will define his leadership and its chances of success.

The campaign for the leadership began when former Prime Minister Gordon Brown resigned on May 11, following his defeat at the May 6 general election.

David Miliband was quick to announce his candidature and was seen by all as the front-runner, and had been talked about before the general election as the likely next leader.

It was a surprise when David Miliband's brother Ed joined the battle. He soon became the main contender to David during a five- month campaign that was seen by public and commentators as boring and overly long.

Ed Milliband, aged 40, is the former environment secretary, and the younger brother of David. They are the sons of a Marxist academic with Polish-Jewish ancestry. Ed was educated at a municipal high school, and studied at the University of Oxford.

He worked for Brown when Brown was chancellor of the exchequer, the finance minister. He has represented an industrial area of the north of England in the House of Commons since 2005, and was a cabinet minister holding the environment portfolio for three years.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:张茜)

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