x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Miliband mum knows sibling rivalry

Spare a thought for Marion Miliband, the mother of the new UK opposition leader and his defeated brother.

Spare a thought this week for Marion Miliband, the Polish-born mother of the new leader of the UK Labour party and indeed his defeated rival.

Since Cain murdered his brother Abel, the spectacle of sibling rivalry has provided a compulsive fascination and although in public David Miliband has shown smiling loyalty to his younger brother Ed, the tears and obvious disgust of his wife Louise reveal the extent of their disappointment at the evaporation of their political dreams.

Their mother will have understood the consequences of this very public battle more than most in an utterly personal way and it’s not surprising that she refused to go to the announcement of the new leader knowing that all eyes would be upon her as they were upon her distraught daughter-in-law.

Mrs Miliband Senior survived the Holocaust, fleeing the Nazis and escaping almost certain death.

Family photographs published recently show a close and devoted family, and she will undoubtedly fear that a wedge will be driven between them. More than anyone, she will dread the ongoing repercussions that may linger for decades and may never be repaired.

No matter how dignified and supportive David Miliband has been in defeat, it is no secret that his wife bitterly resents her brother-in-law’s decision to stand against him in what was widely forecast as a shoo-in beforehand.

The emotional wounds on both sides will be deep and lasting and it’s significant that Ed was reported to have turned to his campaign manager and asked forlornly: “What have I done to David?”

There are hundreds of books on the subject written by psychologists who have examined the effects of sibling rivalry from the sons of Adam and Eve to the increasingly bitter feud between the Gallagher brothers, Liam and Noel.

Birthdays, Christmas and the upcoming Hannukah celebrations in the Miliband household this year will be a nightmare.