Labour leader Ed Miliband waves goodbye to supporters as he and his wife Justine Thornton leave a campaign rally at the Royal Horticultural Halls on May 2, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. 
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Meet the Miliband on the British ballot (and the brother he beat to get there)


When British voters head to the polls today to vote, they’ll see a Miliband on the ballot – but it’s not the elder Miliband many expected.

The Labour Party’s Ed Miliband is up against Conservative Party Prime Minister David Cameron in one of the most unpredictable elections in decades, with Cameron working to portray Miliband as a young kid who will ruin the economy, and Miliband portraying himself as the scourge of wealthy party elders.

This election comes just two years after Ed triumphed over his older brother, David, in a battle to lead the Labour Party and ultimately, the chance to appear on today’s ballot.

RELATED: How we got here: The wishy-washy candidates of Britain’s close election

“If you want to stop Ed Miliband and the [Scottish National Party] from getting into power and wrecking our economy,” Cameron said in a last-minute election day appeal to voters, “and if you want me back on work on Friday working through our long-term economic plan as your prime minister then it is vital that you vote Conservative.”

Miliband in turn has campaigned on income inequality.

“I am still fighting for the big issues in this election and I am still fighting because there is a huge choice between whether the country is run for the most rich and most powerful or a Labour government that puts working people first,” he said this week. “I think we owe it to the country to lay before them the huge issues and including a recovery that goes beyond the City of London.”

When the Labour Party began flailing in 2010, it was the suave and stately David who was thought to be the heir apparent to defeated Gordon Brown. Instead, when elections rolled around, Ed positioned himself further to the left of brother David and secured the backing of three of the four biggest British biggest trade unions. He beat his brother 50.65% to 49.35%.

The pair awkwardly hugged afterward, but their relationship was badly damaged by the battle – David resigned his seat in Parliament and moved to New York three years later. Here’s what you need to know about the brothers.

  • The Miliband’s parents both survived the Holocaust; mother Marion was hidden by a Catholic family for the duration of the war. When the two brothers ran for the leadership, their mother – a party member – abstained from voting. When a reporter commented on how hard the brotherly feud must have been for her, Ed responded, “My mum’s a pretty stoical person. She’s been through much harder things than that in her life.” 
  • Their father, Ralph Miliband, was a prominent Marxist academic and introduced his sons to left-wing politics. He died when the boys were in their 20s.
  • As a youngster, Ed could complete a Rubik’s cube in 90 seconds.
  • Before serving as an MP, David worked for Tony Blair as head of policy; from 2007-2010, he served as the youngest foreign secretary in decades.
  • Ed had a brief career in journalism before heading into politics. He once interned for The Nation magazine in New York City.
  • David now works in New York City as the president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, a refugee aid organization, and lives with his wife, Louise Shackleton, an American violinist, and their two children.
  • Ed married in 2011, to Justine Thorton, a former child actress and environmental lawyer. They also have two children.
  • David appears regularly on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to discuss international issues.
  • The younger Miliband not the most photogenic: a photo of the younger Miliband eating breakfast went viral, with supporters photographing themselves messily eating sandwiches and the hashtag #JeSuisEd. 

Great Britain

Meet the Miliband on the British ballot (and the brother he beat to get there)