ED MILIBAND has acknowledged that his relationship with brother David has still not fully recovered, more than three years after they fought one another for the Labour leadership.
In an appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, the Labour leader – who beat his elder brother by the narrowest of margins in the 2010 contest – was asked if his relationship with former foreign secretary David was now “healed”. “Healing,” he replied.
Despite reports of tensions in the shadow cabinet with Ed Balls, Miliband said that he and the shadow chancellor were determined not to repeat the “dysfunctional” relationship of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, saying: “Ed Balls and I have seen that movie and we are not going back to it, honestly.”
He said he did not feel compromised by the fact that he had won the leadership on the back of union support and insisted that he had “acted really thoroughly to uphold the integrity of the party” in the row with Unite over the selection of a candidate in Falkirk.
Asked what he meant when he said he was bringing socialism back, Miliband said: “Democratic socialism is on our party card. For me it’s about a society where there is fairness and justice and greater equality. That’s what brought me into the Labour Party.
“We live in a capitalist society. My dad [Marxist academic Ralph Miliband] thought you could abolish capitalism. I don’t, but I think it throws up fundamental injustices. What motivates me as a politician is I see injustice and I seek to do something about it.”
Miliband said he had no regrets about any of the “big decisions” in his life, and insisted that David was still his best friend. But he told presenter Kirsty Young: “It has been incredibly tough – really, really tough. I didn’t take this decision lightly. I knew it would have an impact on my family and on him.”
Miliband said that he had “not really” spoken to David – long seen as the heir apparent to Brown – about the leadership before he announced his decision to stand. “We had conversations, but they were probably quite elliptical conversations,” he said.
“We probably danced around it a bit because neither of us was desperate to confront it, I suppose. We didn’t have a total heart-to-heart about it.”
Once he had decided to stand, he said that their mother Marion “never said to me ‘don’t do it’” and remained “absolutely scrupulously neutral” during the contest, in which she did not vote.
Family, rather than politics, dominated Miliband’s interview. Describing how he tried to fit school runs, nursery drop-offs and bedtime stories with sons Daniel, 4, and Samuel, 3, into his schedule, he said: “My family mean everything to me, it’s the most important thing in my life.”
One of his eight discs – Angels by Robbie Williams – was chosen to remind him of watching the Live8 concert with his wife Justine “when we were falling in love”.
Challenged over his decision not to marry until they had two children and he was leader of the opposition, Miliband said: “We always said we would get married at some point ... We did it in what you might call a 21st century way.”
Miliband revealed that he did not have any “serious” girlfriends until after leaving Oxford University aged 22 in 1992, admitting: “I was pretty square.”
He joked that his lack of success might be partly due to the “extremely bad pair of white trousers and purple jumper” he wore to school discos and his “really embarrassing” dancing to A-Ha’s Take On Me – another of his desert island choices – saying: “No wonder I didn’t pull.”