David Miliband

David Miliband
The Right Honourable
David Miliband
Shadow Foreign Secretary
In office
11 May 2010 – 7 October 2010
Leader Harriet Harman
Ed Miliband
Preceded by William Hague
Succeeded by Yvette Cooper
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
28 June 2007 – 11 May 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Margaret Beckett
Succeeded by William Hague
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
In office
5 May 2006 – 27 June 2007
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Margaret Beckett
Succeeded by Hilary Benn
Cabinet Minister for Communities and Local Government
In office
5 May 2005 – 5 May 2006
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Ruth Kelly (Secretary of State)
Head of the Number 10 Policy Unit
In office
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Succeeded by Andrew Adonis
Member of Parliament
for South Shields
Assumed office
7 June 2001
Preceded by David Clark
Majority 11,109 (30.4%)
Personal details
Born 15 July 1965 (1965-07-15) (age 46)
London, United Kingdom
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Louise Shackelton
Relations Ralph Miliband
Ed Miliband (brother)
Alma mater Corpus Christi College, Oxford
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Religion None (atheist)[1]
Website Official website

David Wright Miliband (born 15 July 1965) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for South Shields since 2001, and was the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 2007 to 2010. He is the elder son of the late Marxist theorist Ralph Miliband. He and his brother, current Labour Leader Ed Miliband, were the first siblings to sit in the Cabinet simultaneously since Edward, Lord Stanley, and Oliver Stanley in 1938.

Born in London, Miliband studied at Oxford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and started his career at the Institute for Public Policy Research. At 29, Miliband became Tony Blair's Head of Policy whilst the Labour Party was in opposition and was a major contributor to Labour's manifesto for the 1997 general election which brought the party to power. Blair made him head of the Prime Minister's Policy Unit from 1997 to 2001, following which Miliband was elected to parliament for the North East England seat of South Shields.

Miliband spent the next few years in various junior ministerial posts, including at the Department for Education and Skills, before becoming Environment Secretary. His tenure in this post saw climate change consolidated as a priority for UK policymakers. On the succession of Gordon Brown as Prime Minister (2007), Miliband was promoted to Foreign Secretary, at 41, the youngest person to hold the post since David Owen 30 years earlier. In September 2010 Miliband narrowly lost the Labour leadership election to his brother Ed. On 29 September 2010, he announced that to avoid "constant comparison" with his brother Ed, and because of the "perpetual, distracting and destructive attempts to find division where there is none, and splits where they don't exist, all to the detriment of the party's cause", he would not stand for the shadow cabinet.[2]


Early life

Born in London, Miliband is the elder son of Jewish immigrants, Belgian-born Marxist Ralph Miliband and Marion Kozak from Poland.[3][4] He has said "I am the child of Jewish immigrants and that is a very important part of my identity."[3] Both his Polish Jewish paternal grandparents lived in the Jewish quarter of Warsaw. His paternal grandfather, Samuel, a trained leather worker, fought for the Red Army in the Polish–Soviet War of 1919-1921 before moving to Belgium.[5][6] His paternal grandmother, Renia (later known as Renée), also moved to Belgium, where she first met Sam, and the couple married in 1923.[7] The German invasion of Belgium in May 1940 split the Miliband family in half: Ralph and father Samuel fled to England,[8] while Ralph's mother Renée and baby sister Nan stayed behind for the duration of the war. They were not reunited until 1950.[9] During his visit to Poland in June 2009, Miliband went to his family tomb in the Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw. He said of Poland, 'My mother was born here, her life was saved by those who risked theirs sheltering her from Nazi oppression,' and that he is 'one of the million Britons who have Polish blood'.[10][11]


David Miliband was educated at Primrose Hill Primary School,[12] Camden and then Haverstock Comprehensive School in North London from 1978 to 1983.[13] He obtained four A-levels,[14] and won admission to the University of Oxford with the assistance of an Inner London Education Authority scheme intended to enable comprehensive school pupils to attend the university.[15] Miliband studied at Corpus Christi College, Oxford and obtained a first class honours degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.[16] From 1988 to 1989 he took an S.M. degree in Political Science at MIT, where he was a Kennedy Scholar.[17]

Political biography

Miliband's first job was for the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. From 1989 to 1994, he worked as a Research Fellow and policy analyst at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). He was appointed Secretary of the IPPR's Commission on Social Justice upon its foundation in 1992 by the then leader of the Labour Party, John Smith.[18] In 1994 Miliband became Tony Blair's Head of Policy and was a major contributor to Labour's manifesto for the 1997 general election. After Labour's victory in that election, Blair made him the de facto Head of the Prime Minister's Policy Unit, a position which he held until the 2001 election. He was given the nickname "Brains" by Alastair Campbell, after the Thunderbirds character.[19] In the 2001 general election he was elected to Parliament for the Labour stronghold of South Shields, succeeding David Clark. After a year as a backbench MP he was appointed Schools Minister, a junior minister in the Department for Education and Skills in June 2002. On 15 December 2004, in the reshuffle following the resignation of David Blunkett, he replaced Ruth Kelly as a Cabinet Office Minister.

Following Labour's third consecutive election victory in May 2005, he was promoted to the Cabinet as Minister of State for Communities and Local Government within the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. This was a newly created cabinet-level post with responsibility for housing, planning, regeneration and local government. Because the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, was the Departmental Minister officially in charge of these portfolios, Miliband was not given the title Secretary of State but he was appointed a Privy Councillor and became a full member of the Cabinet.[20]

Secretary of State at Defra

On 5 May 2006 following the local elections Tony Blair made a major cabinet reshuffle in which Miliband replaced Margaret Beckett as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.[21] Miliband has said he believes agriculture is important for the UK’s cultural heritage, economy and society and also for the environment. He has said disease control should be balanced with animal welfare. He attaches importance to reaching a “fair balance” among consumers, farmers, manufacturers and retailers. Miliband also believes the European Union and the World Trade Organisation affect power relations between British and foreign farmers.[22]

He was the first British cabinet member to have a blog, though claims of excessive cost to the taxpayer provoked some controversy.[23] In January 2007 Miliband sparked minor controversy by saying there was no evidence organic food was better than conventionally grown produce, though he later clarified that he was referring specifically to health benefits.[24]

Miliband is an advocate for international awareness of climate change and believes the cooperation of all nations is needed for environmental reform. Miliband's focuses include food retail waste management and greenhouse gas emissions in agricultural industries. He believes that the EU should go further in two areas: a low carbon global economy and global action on climate change. He also wants Europe to increase its economic competitiveness. By switching over to a low carbon economy, he plans to tackle climate change. He hopes to ensure a stable price on energy by securing an energy source and announced the Government's plans to legislate for carbon reductions at the United Nations General Assembly.[25]

In August 2006, in an effort to put environmental reform into action, Miliband developed a place for a collaborative "environmental contract" to be developed on a Defra Wiki site. It was subsequently linked to by blogger Paul Staines, and mocked, after which further edits by guest users were temporarily prevented.[26] Miliband's emphasis on the necessity of an entirely cooperative effort to effectively instigate a low carbon lifestyle worldwide has led him to advocate an open dialogue among citizens about environmental issues through web-based blogging.[27] Whilst Environment Secretary, Miliband called for all 27 nations of the European Union to unify in backing proposals to cut harmful emissions by 30% by 2020.[28]

Miliband has floated the idea of every citizen being issued with a "Carbon Credit Card" to improve personal carbon thrift. Miliband claims individuals have to be empowered to tackle global warming — "the mass mobilising movement of our age".[29]

Foreign Secretary

On 28 June 2007, the day after Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, Miliband was appointed Foreign Secretary. He was Britain's third youngest Foreign Secretary and the youngest person to be appointed to the post since David Owen (in office 21 February 1977 – 4 May 1979). Anthony Eden assumed office at the age of 37 in 1935. David's younger brother, the economist Ed Miliband, was the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, making them the first siblings to serve together in Cabinet since Edward, Lord Stanley and his brother Oliver in 1938.

Miliband with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, February 2009.

Miliband's first Foreign Office questions session as Foreign Secretary in the House of Commons was on 3 July 2007.[30] On the morning of 13 December 2007, Miliband stood in for Prime Minister, Gordon Brown at the official signing ceremony in Lisbon of the EU Reform Treaty, which was attended by all other European heads of government. Brown was otherwise engaged at the House of Commons, appearing before the Liaison Committee, and travelled to Portugal to sign the treaty in the afternoon.[31]

On 5 February 2009, Miliband made a statement to the House of Commons concerning Guantanamo Bay detainee and former British resident Benyam Mohammed.[32] A week later Mohamed’s American lawyer Yvonne Bradley flew to Britain to urge the Foreign Office to press harder for his release. On 23 February 2009, Benyam Mohammed returned to Britain and was granted temporary residence.[33][34]

India trip

After his trip to India in 2008 following the Mumbai attacks, Miliband wrote in an article that "resolution of the dispute over Kashmir would help deny extremists in the region one of their main calls to arms, and allow Pakistani authorities to focus more effectively on tackling the threat on their western borders".[35] This sparked an angry response from the Indian government, whose long standing policy had been not to accept any third party involvement in the dispute of Kashmir. An Indian analyst suggested that his tone implied that India must shoulder some of the responsibility because of its policies in Kashmir.[36] Some reports also said that Miliband's tone towards the Indian Prime Minister and the Finance Minister had been aggressive, and that he had been excused for being a "young man".[37]

Sri Lanka ceasefire

During the latter stages of the Sri Lankan Army's 2008/09 offensive against the LTTE, Miliband travelled to Sri Lanka to press the government to call a ceasefire with the Tamil Tigers, citing concerns for civilians caught in the crossfire.[38] Miliband's visit was met with protests by Sri Lankan nationalists, who accused Miliband of attempting to save the lives of Tamil Tiger militants.[39] During the victory celebrations that took place a few weeks later, a burning effigy of Miliband was reported to have been tossed over the gate of the British High Commission in Colombo.[40]

In December 2010 articles published in the British newspapers The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph highlighted that Miliband spent two thirds of his time focusing on Sri Lankan civil war largely due to domestic political calculations, the source of the articles was a leaked US diplomatic cable published by Wiki Leaks. The articles further elaborate, Tim Waite a foreign office official had said

that much of [Her Majesty's government] and ministerial attention to Sri Lanka is due to the 'very vocal' Tamil diaspora in the UK, numbering over 300,000, who have been protesting in front of parliament since 6 April,

as per the wiki leak site, this was reported by Richard Mills a United States Embassy worker in UK.[41][42] Richard Mills further wrote on his cable,

"He said that with UK elections on the horizon and many Tamils living in Labour constituencies with slim majorities, the government is paying particular attention to Sri Lanka, with Miliband recently remarking to Waite that he was spending 60 per cent of his time at the moment on Sri Lanka."

Comments over terrorism

In August 2009, Miliband was a guest on BBC Radio 4's Great Lives programme, choosing South African Communist Party leader and anti-apartheid activist Joe Slovo.[43] Miliband stated during the programme, in a response to a question about terrorism, that "yes there are circumstances in which it is justifiable and yes there are circumstances in which it is effective, but it is never effective on its own". These comments were criticised by Menzies Campbell and William Hague.[44]

European Foreign Minister

The Treaty of Lisbon creates the post of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union, a post commonly known as the European Foreign Minister. In autumn 2009, as the treaty came close to coming into force, Miliband was named as being under consideration for the post as EU officials regarded him as "ideal material".[45] Miliband publicly insisted that he was not available to fill the post, as he was committed to remaining in the British cabinet.[46] Baroness Ashton, a fellow British Labour politician and then European Commissioner for Trade, was ultimately appointed to the post instead.[47]

Relations with Israel

On 23 March 2010, the UK expelled an Israeli diplomat owing to claims that an embassy official from that country forged passports, and Miliband gave a public warning against travel to Israel because of identity theft concerns.[48]

Labour Party

Miliband has emphasised a generational division between himself and Blairites such as John Reid, Alan Milburn, Stephen Byers, John Hutton and Peter Mandelson. Miliband is one of the "Primrose Hill Gang", a loose network of younger Labour politicians and advisers who supposedly look beyond Tony Blair and Gordon Brown for the future of the Labour Party. Other members of the group include Miliband's brother Ed Miliband, Douglas Alexander, Pat McFadden, James Purnell, Jim Murphy, Andy Burnham, Matthew Taylor, Geoff Mulgan and Patrick Diamond.

Miliband could be seen as a leader of a different set of "next generation" Blairite Ministers - a "Blairites for Brown" group - whom political commentators usually identify as David Miliband, Andy Burnham, James Purnell and Liam Byrne, several of whom prospered under Brown. There is reported to be little difference between this group and Brownites of the same generation, notably Ed Miliband, and the husband and wife ministerial couple of Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper.

Miliband's support for Brown was seen as part of an effort by his generation to end the Blairite/Brownite division, which they saw as a product more of personal rivalries arising from the 1994 leadership deal than of policy differences. Political commentator Andrew Rawnsley of The Observer wrote in 2002 that "He is on the Left of the New Labour spectrum. He is a believer—in a way that Blair is not entirely—in Continental social democracy".[19]

2010 Labour Party leadership election


On 29 July 2008, Miliband wrote an article in The Guardian that outlined his vision of a future of the Labour Party but made no mention of Gordon Brown.[49] The piece was widely interpreted as a leadership challenge to the then Prime Minister, not least because the timing of its publication – just after Brown's departure on holiday at the start of the parliamentary summer recess, and while there was intense speculation about his continuing leadership following Labour's defeat in the Glasgow East by-election the previous week – seemed designed to produce a large political impact. In the following days two Labour MPs called on Brown to sack Miliband for his perceived disloyalty. Miliband, while denying claims by his detractors that he was seeking to provoke an early leadership election, did not rule himself out of eventually running for the leadership of the party. Many grassroots supporters believed a David Miliband-led Labour Party would tackle the Conservatives more effectively, reaching out to voters in marginal seats as well as securing Labour's core support.[50][51]


On 12 May 2010, flanked by 15 supportive MPs outside the House of Commons, Miliband announced he would stand for the leadership election of the Labour Party.[52] The other contenders for the leadership were Ed Balls, Andy Burnham, Diane Abbott and David’s brother Ed Miliband, with David Miliband gaining the most nominations. The result of the contest was announced on 25 September 2010, the day before the start of the 2010 Labour Party Conference in Manchester. While David Miliband led the share of the electoral college votes in the first three rounds, he lost in the final round (50.65% to 49.35%) to his brother Ed. He announced on 29 September 2010 that he would be quitting frontline politics and would not be a part of his brother Ed's shadow cabinet.[53]

The Daily Mirror, a Labour supporting newspaper which had backed Miliband in his leadership campaign, lamented his failure to win as a "sad waste of a huge talent".[54]

Retirement from frontline politics

Miliband resigned from the shadow cabinet in October 2010, and since has been serving as the MP for South Shields. He has become the non-executive vice-chairman for Sunderland A.F.C. and is also a part-time voluntary teacher at Haverstock School, teaching A-Level Politics and Government.[55] In 2011, he became Senior Global Advisor for Oxford Analytica.[56]

Expenses claims

The Daily Telegraph's investigation of expenses claims by Members of Parliament reported that Miliband had claimed for gardening expenses and approximately £30,000 in repairs, decorations, and furnishings for his constituency home in South Shields. A spokesperson said: "At every stage, David Miliband followed the procedures and rules as laid out by the parliamentary authorities".[57]

Personal life

Miliband is married to United States-born Louise Shackelton, a professional violinist currently with the London Symphony Orchestra.[58] Shackelton and Miliband have adopted two newborn sons from the United States,[59] the first in December 2004 and the second in October 2007.[60][61][62]

In an interview with CNN in 2009, Miliband stated that he grew up in a secular setting, and describes himself as an atheist with a "huge respect" for people of faith.[1]

Business interests

On 21 December 2010, The Office of David Miliband Limited was formed with Miliband and his wife Louise as directors.[63]


  • Gutch, Richard; Miliband, David; Percival, Richard (1989). Publish and still not be damned : a guide for voluntary groups on the provisions of the 1986 and 1988 Local Government Acts regarding political publicity and the promotion of homosexuality. National Council for Voluntary Organisations. ISBN 9780719912511. 
  • Tindale, Stephen; Miliband, David (1991). Beyond economics : European government after Maastricht. Discussion paper, no. 12.. Fabian Society. ISBN 9780716330127. 
  • Miliband, David (1992). A more perfect union? Britain and the new Europe. IPPR. ISBN 9781872452531. 
  • Miliband, David (1994). Reinventing the Left. Polity Press. ISBN 9780745613901. 
  • Miliband, David (2006). Empowerment and the deal for devolution. ODPM. ISBN 9781851128426. 


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  3. ^ a b "Being Jewish must have an influence on the way I think. I am the child of Jewish immigrants and that is a very important part of my identity." - from Josephs, Bernard (2006-12-22). "David Miliband: Red to green in a generation". The Jewish Chronicle. http://www.thejc.com/articles/david-miliband-red-green-a-generation. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 
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  7. ^ M. Newman, ibid, p. 5
  8. ^ Andy Beckett "In the house of the rising sons", The Guardian, 28 February 2004
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  13. ^ Meet the new boy The Guardian, June 4, 2002
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  15. ^ We called him Donny Osmond ... now he could be prime minister, say student friends of David Miliband The Daily Mail, June 1, 2008
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  25. ^ Miliband, David (6 June 2007). "Greening the American Dream". http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/ministers/speeches/david-miliband/dm070606.htm.  See also: United Nations General Assembly Verbatim Report meeting 9 session 62 page 45, Mr. Miliband United Kingdom on 27 September 2007 (retrieved 2007-11-12)
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  41. ^ The Telegraph,[1]
  42. ^ The Guardian,[2]
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  54. ^ [3]
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  59. ^ http://www.davidmiliband.net/about-david-2/davids-story/
  60. ^ Andrew Norfolk (31 December 2004). "Blair's lieutenant adopts American baby". London: The Times. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article407171.ece. Retrieved 2007-05-15. 
  61. ^ "David Miliband adopts second son". BBC News Online. 29 October 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7067282.stm. Retrieved 2007-10-29. 
  62. ^ Clout, Laura (13 June 2008). "David Miliband speaks of adopting his sons". London: The Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2120096/David-Miliband-speaks-of-adopting-his-sons.html. Retrieved 2010-05-11. 
  63. ^ "Companies House website". http://wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk/30a0a493168a75322381e16a115f7cdf/compdetails/. 

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
David Clark
Member of Parliament for South Shields
Political offices
Preceded by
Stephen Timms
Minister of State for Schools
Succeeded by
Stephen Twigg
New office Minister of State for Communities and Local Government
Succeeded by
Ruth Kelly
as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Preceded by
Margaret Beckett
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Succeeded by
Hilary Benn
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Succeeded by
William Hague
Preceded by
William Hague
Shadow Foreign Secretary
Succeeded by
Yvette Cooper
Academic offices
Preceded by
Jean-Claude Juncker
College of Europe Orateur
Succeeded by
Yves Leterme

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