(Right now a big election is going on in Britain. At the forefront of the Labour race are two qualified candidates…who just so happen to be brothers. Our London correspondent Ria Tesia gives us a resident’s take on the events from across the pond.)
Ambition has always been a much lauded trait to possess. It enables one to broaden their horizons whilst striving towards their goal, be it monetary or holistic. But is there such a term as being over-ambitious and would you let family stand in the way of your true vocation in life?
Imagine if you were going head to head with your sibling, having voluntarily pitted yourself against them for a top job. Not just any top job, but the mother of all jobs – the chance to run the country (it doesn’t get any bigger than this). What does that say about you as a person? Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for healthy competition. But when do you hit the stop button?
I refer to the UK political scene where I have been scrutinising the Labour leadership contest with morbid fascination. This is reality TV with a political twist. As emotions run high along with TV ratings (Murdoch must be rubbing his hands in glee), I have watched the Labour conference in amalgamated surprise and wonderment. Since Labour’s defeat after thirteen years in power culminating in the resignation of Gordon Brown, five candidates emerged to run for Leader of the Opposition; two of them brothers – Ed and David Miliband.
The two brothers couldn’t be more different from one another. This is the new generation of Blair versus Brown all over again. Whilst the elder David ‘heir to Blair’ aimed at swing voters, the younger Ed and former special adviser to Gordon Brown focussed on a more union-friendly approach whilst proclaiming a return to the party’s traditional left-wing roots. The drama has been unfolding since May when Ed officially threw his hat into the ring of the leadership contest. David was the clear front-runner from the start and welcomed his brother’s decision to stand against him with arms wide open and gargantuan smile to boot. One cannot help but think that he was probably humouring his younger sibling Ed, who lacked the experience and statesman like stance which David possessed in bucket loads.
Throughout the contest, both David and Ed confessed their admiration and mutual respect for one another. Running a somewhat humble campaign with the fraction of the manpower in comparison to that of his older sibling, Ed’s softly, softly approach did the trick. From being a rank outsider in the initial stages to going on to win the coveted prize of Labour Leader takes some gumption. Yet I cannot help but wonder what lies ahead for the brothers Miliband. Despite each sibling professing brotherly love from the outset, the real test of their much lauded cordial relationship lies in the now critical stages of Ed being crowned Leader of the Opposition. Will David accept a post in his brother’s cabinet? Will the elder brother serve under the younger?
Family and politics can work. Poland’s Kaczynski twins were simultaneously President and Premier, working together in unison to rule harmoniously without any fall-out. The American Kennedy managed just fine too. After the election of John F. Kennedy in 1961, younger brother Robert F. Kennedy acted as adviser to JFK during his presidency. Rivalry didn’t seem to affect their relationship; working together merely brought them closer together.
In fact, John, Robert and Edward all held prominent positions in federal government. It was only after JFK’s untimely death in 1963, that the younger RFK sought to campaign for presidency in 1968.
Granted, it may be somewhat easier for a younger sibling to work under an older sibling, however working closely with a family member is always going to have its plus and negative points. Despite being an only child myself, I have seen from close quarters how sibling rivalry can give rise to tricky, downright ugly emotions; unfathomable jealousy and profound insecurity to name but a few.
With a statement due imminently from Camp David Miliband, I for one sincerely hope that he will continue to serve the Labour government. His leadership defeat should not detract from the fact he is an astute, sage politician. His invaluable input is something which no doubt Ed would welcome.
The political landscape for Labour has been irrevocably changed. Will the fresh-faced Ed leave an indelible mark on the Labour Party whilst bolstering his relationship with his brother? Ed Miliband may not have been the obvious choice as Labour Leader. Or a potential Prime Minister. Yet. He has time to prove himself. David Cameron, watch out. Who knew politics could be so deliciously, dastardly entertaining…