There’s a good reason you don’t see many bookmakers going out of business: they tend to know what they’re doing. And with British bookies — for the first time earlier this week — making Ed Miliband the odds-on favorite to become leader of the opposition Labour Party, his supporters had reason to be cheerful. But would it be backed up on the day?
The answer was yes. The younger of the Miliband brothers overcame his older brother David and three other candidates at their Party’s annual conference Saturday in Manchester, in the north of England. In a ballot of Labour members and trade unionists, the 40-year-old ex-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change squeaked over the 50% plus one vote threshold required for victory. In a campaign of, if you will, relative drama, there was action to the end as the Milibands, who received the most votes of the five candidates, needed the second, third and fourth preference votes from the supporters of Ed Balls, Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott, who finished third, fourth and fifth respectively. It’s believed that the weight of the unions ended up swinging it for Ed, who took victory 50.65-49.35% despite David leading after the first three rounds of voting.
Entering the hall, Ed looked ashen-faced while David sported a big grin, which added a further layer of spice. After taking to the stage to deliver his victory speech, Ed said that when he joined Labour at the age of 17, he never in his wildest dreams imagined he’d one day lead it, before telling his beaten brother that “I love you so much,” and how, “We all know how much you have to offer this country in the future.” This will come as blessed relief for their mother, Marion Kozak, who refused to back either of her boys.
Soon enough, of course, it will be back to politics as usual but Saturday’s spotlight belongs to Labour and the Milibands. “Today we draw a line under this contest and move forward united as a team,” said Ed, who also has the fillip of seeing that the latest national opinion polls place Labour nearly neck-and-neck with the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition. Whether Labour will oust their rivals from power at the next General Election remains to be seen but the odds are that those bookmakers could have the inside track.