David Miliband, British Jewish Leader, Quits Politics, Clearing Path for Brother

Will Lead N.Y.-Based International Rescue Committee

David Miliband, the former British foreign secretary who lost an unusual leadership battle with his brother, Ed, is quitting politics. He is moving to New York and will run the International Rescue Committee, which promotes the rights of refugees.
getty images
David Miliband, the former British foreign secretary who lost an unusual leadership battle with his brother, Ed, is quitting politics. He is moving to New York and will run the International Rescue Committee, which promotes the rights of refugees.

By Reuters

Published March 27, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Former British foreign secretary David Miliband, once tipped as a potential prime minister, said on Wednesday he was leaving politics to boost his brother’s chances of leading the opposition Labour party to victory in an election in 2015.

His departure ends speculation he might replace brother Ed Miliband as Labour leader between now and 2015 if his sibling falters. But the move was also seen as a sign he did not think it likely that Ed would win.

David Miliband, 47, had already retreated from frontline politics after narrowly losing a Labour leadership election in 2010 which pitted him against Ed, 43.

The battle between the brothers gripped the British political world. David was viewed as the more gifted politician and most Labour MPs backed him, but the trade union movement, the bedrock of Labour support, tipped the vote in favour of Ed.

Miliband said he was stepping down as a Labour MP to take up a job in New York as head of the International Rescue Committee, a global humanitarian aid organisation. The brothers’ parents were Polish Jewish refugees who fled the Holocaust.

Although Labour is 10 points ahead of the ruling Conservative party in polls, many MPs think the lead should be much greater at this stage in the election cycle given the grim state of the economy.

They are concerned the party is still not trusted on the economy by voters. Some Labour supporters also think Ed Miliband has been slow to prove his credibility and polls show many voters cannot imagine him as prime minister.

David Miliband said on Wednesday his decision to leave British politics altogether would boost Labour’s chances of winning the next election by ending speculation he was waiting in the wings to stage a comeback if his brother was ousted.

“I know that the country faces very big challenges,” he told BBC TV. “I want Labour to be able to address those issues in an uninhibited way and I think that with my departure that can now happen.”

He said he feared being a distraction to the main task.

“It’s unusual to have two brothers in a Cabinet or a shadow Cabinet. It’s very, very unusual, I think unique, to have two brothers fighting a leadership election. I don’t want to be a bit-part player in a soap opera.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.