“A new generation has stepped forward to serve our party, and in time I hope to serve our country. Today, the work of the new generation begins” said the man dubbed “Red Ed” by sections of the UK media because of his support from the trade unions.
The union votes were crucial in the end, with Ed’s margin of victory over his brother David just 0.7 percent. The London Independent reports that the new Labour leader’s reliance on the support of the unions could re-open an old schism.
“Ed Miliband’s reliance on trade union votes to overcome David’s support from Labour MPs and party members threatens to perpetuate the struggle between the two wings of the party.”
“Never in my wildest imagination did I think that I would one day lead this party,” Miliband said as he took to the stage. He later moved to commiserate with his brother David, who said he was “genuinely happy” for his younger brother and that “This is Ed’s day, not mine.”
“It’s a huge day for the Miliband family, not quite the day for the Miliband family I would have wanted – the Miliband D family, rather than the Miliband E. But that’s the way things go. This is all about Ed setting a new agenda for the Labour party. We’ve all got to make sure we rally it in a very strong way. I think there is a real mood in the party to do that. So on we go.”
On the subject of his brother’s continued participation in Labour, Ed said David is still deciding over his participation. ‘He needs the space to do that and we’ve got shadow cabinet elections next week, after this conference, so there is a bit of time for all that.”
“There is absolutely no business here of any kind of sense of ‘who supported whom’. The past is another country as far as I am concerned,” he said.
Former Labour press secretary and director of communications Alistair Campbell urged Ed Miliband to “paint his own picture” in a blog post on his website this morning.
“…from Ed’s perspective, I would say that he, more than anyone else, more than political colleagues, opponents or pundits, can now shape how he is seen by the public. That is quite an exhilerating position to be in, especially for the candidate who came from behind and is therefore less well known among the general public.”
The Conservative Party have said that Miliband’s appointment is a “great leap backwards”. Conservative chairwoman Lady Warsi said:
“Ed Miliband wasn’t the choice of his MPs, wasn’t the choice of Labour party members but was put in to power by union votes. I’m afraid this looks like a great leap backwards for the Labour party.”