Everybody else is talking about the brothers Miliband, so I guess I'll tell you a few bits and pieces of what I think. I was hoping that David would win the Labour leadership. Apart from a general hunch that he would be the most able party leader of the five candidates, my two main reasons for supporting him against Ed were (a) that I didn't think Ed should have challenged his own brother for the leadership (of which more below), and (b) I found Ed's attempt to invoke his semi-secret opposition to the Iraq war, as being a point in his favour, pathetic.
And yet what kind of leader, and how effective a one, Ed will make I do not pretend to know. Indeed, it surprises me how confident some others are about this. An example is Matthew Parris in today's Times (£). He sees Ed Miliband as a dweeb rather than a geek, and where a geek can be 'very much an individual', dweebs 'are essentially herd creatures. A dweeb will always funk it.' Maybe Parris is right, and anyway everyone in the opinion game is entitled to make speculative predictions of this sort. But experience also teaches that individuals without any obvious prior credentials can sometimes grow into a new part; and, personally, I won't be writing Ed Miliband off.
In his 'coronation' speech at the Labour Party conference, Ed said some good, if generic, things connecting with Labour's best traditions - about not walking past injustice and about glaring income inequalities in this country. However, early signs from him that don't much impress me are these. First, all the 'my generation' talk, which is so much hot air; and second, a tendency he now has to refer to the Labour Party as 'my party'. OK, let's cut the guy some slack: Ed Miliband wanted to signal an intent to move on from certain New Labour tropes, and the generation stuff was just a rhetorically ill-chosen way of doing that; and, as the younger brother and perceived usurper, 'my party' may be an attempt to stamp his authority on the new state of affairs, as if to say: 'It's me you've now got; handle it.' Still, there's a certain hubris to beware of here. The Labour Party belongs to all of its members, and, some might say, to its more loyal voters as well.
Third, and sticking for the moment with hubris, there's this:
Ed Miliband also came under continued media pressure to justify his decision to stand, given the consequence that he had destroyed his brother's political career. He countered that it would have been an abdication of his responsibility to the party and country if he had not stood. He added that he refused to feel guilt, but that he was sorry for his brother.
Not personal ambition; not even the sense that he might make a good fist of doing the job. No, an abdication of responsibility; and not just to the party but to the country. Does he think it's his destiny to lead? That no one else could do it as well as he? That he'd therefore be letting us all down by not standing? Does everyone who might - just might - be leadership material have an obligation to be a candidate for leadership? That is, to put it mildly, a presumption and before he's done what he needs to do to earn the right to it.
Yet probably it's just a way of Ed's avoiding having to face the fact that he's shafted his own brother, and so I come finally to this. I should say here that, having discussed the matter with quite a few people, I find my own intuitions and reasonings on the point are not widely shared. For many, it seems, all's fair in politics as in love and war, and/or the principles of the public domain have their own logic and need not give way to family considerations. I understand the different logic and can see that some would want to let it prevail over love or loyalty to your own. But there are others who would not set aside these latter feelings or obligations (as the case may be). Those who do, at any rate, should at least know that this is what they're doing, rather than shutting their eyes to it. Katharine Viner asks why the eldest son should be thought to hold a privilege. But it's not to do with elder and younger, except indirectly. It's that David Miliband was poised to gain a position that he prized highly and for which many thought he was well-qualified; and his brother - not younger brother, just brother, period - moved against him in what was potentially a career-wrecking development for David; while not to have stood wouldn't have been a career-ending act of self-restraint for Ed. For him now to say that David's decision not to stand for the shadow cabinet is 'thoughtful for the family' seems particularly rich, but it does reveal by indirection that Ed is not altogether insensitive of the possibility of family considerations being allowed to carry weight. Perhaps, in consequence, the great place he gives to the duty he owed the country to stand for the Labour leadership - which I'll wager very few of his compatriots thought he had.