Page last updated at 16:18 GMT, Thursday, 31 July 2008 17:18 UK

Profile: David Miliband

David Miliband
Mr Miliband's father was a leading Marxist intellectual

Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who has added to pressure on Gordon Brown with remarks about Labour's shortcomings, has long appeared a possible leader.

His Guardian article on the party's future conspicuously fails to mention the prime minister's name even once.

Two Labour MPs have called for Mr Brown to sack the foreign secretary for his "duplicitous" behaviour and "stirring up trouble".

But - in the unlikely event that this happens - it would be a rare setback in the smoothest of careers.


Mr Miliband - the son of leading Marxist theorist Ralph Miliband - was born in London and grew up in Primrose Hill, one of the city's most prosperous suburbs.

Educated at Haverstock Comprehensive, he went on to Oxford to study politics, philosophy and economics, where he got a first-class degree.

He also took an MSc in political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States, before spending time at the left-leaning Institute for Public Policy Research and as secretary of the Commission on Social Justice.

Mr Miliband started working in Tony Blair's policy unit in the mid-1990s, becoming one of the architects of the "New Labour" project.

After his party's landslide victory in 1997, he became head of the 10 Downing Street policy unit and a key figure in the prime minister's so-called "kitchen Cabinet".

But the young intellectual, nicknamed "Brains" by Mr Blair's chief spokesman Alastair Campbell, was not satisfied with a backroom role.

Ministerial career

Somewhat controversially, he was "parachuted in" from outside to fight the safe Labour seat of South Shields in the 2001 general election.

It followed a surprise, eleventh-hour decision by sitting MP David Clark not to contest the seat.

Within a year Mr Miliband, a chatty character who seems to enjoy the company of journalists, became a middle-ranking minister, handling the school standards brief.

In 2004 he was made Cabinet Office minister, before going into the cabinet itself 12 months later, as minister of communities and local government, serving in the department of Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

A 13-month stint as environment secretary followed from 2006.


When Tony Blair stood down as prime minister last year, speculation was rife that Mr Miliband would challenge Mr Brown but, in the end, he did not.

His reward was promotion to foreign secretary when Mr Brown entered 10 Downing Street - at 41, the youngest person to hold the post since a 38-year-old David Owen in 1977.

Mr Miliband's younger brother Ed - a close ally of Mr Brown - was also made a cabinet minister.

The foreign secretary has insisted he has no designs on the Labour leadership - and, indeed, becoming prime minister - but his Guardian article has been seen by many as a signal of intent.

It urges the party, which recently lost the Glasgow East and Crewe and Nantwich seats in by-elections, on top of the London mayoralty, to avoid any feelings of "fatalism".

The true level of the foreign secretary's personal political ambition should become apparent soon.

Mr Miliband, a keen blogger and Arsenal fan, is married to violinist Louise Shackleton, with whom he has adopted two sons.

MPs urge Brown to sack Miliband
31 Jul 08 |  UK Politics
Miliband denies 'leadership' bid
30 Jul 08 |  UK Politics

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