British ex-minister Miliband praises candidate brother

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Former British foreign secretary David Miliband formally launched his bid to lead the Labour party Monday with praise for his only challenger for the job so far -- his younger brother Ed.

"Our family is more important than politics and we are absolutely determined that it won't get in the way," the 44-year-old told reporters in his constituency of South Shields in northeast England.

"Ed is extremely talented and has made his own decision to run. He is going to be a brother I love at the end of the campaign, whatever happens."

Their father, Ralph, was a prominent Marxist theorist who died in 1994, and David said his mother would have to stay out of this contest, saying: "My mum is not the abstaining type but she's abstaining on this one."

The two brothers are the only candidates so far to replace Gordon Brown as leader of the Labour party, which was plunged into opposition last week after the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats formed a coalition government following a general election.

Others are expected to join the race but the brothers -- both of them long tipped as leadership material -- are both among the favourites to win.

The pair have reportedly decided to stand against each other to avoid any backroom deal, such as that struck between Brown and Tony Blair in 1994.

Blair was prime minister for 10 years before handing over to Brown, a decade marked by often bitter rivalry between the two camps. David Miliband was seen as a Blairite and Ed Miliband as a Brownite.

"Deals are the thing that got us into some of the problems we have had," ex-energy secretary Ed, 40, said when he announced his candidacy Saturday.

"David is my best friend in the world. I love him dearly and I think it is absolutely possible and necessary for this party to have a civilised contest."

© 2010 AFP

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