LONDON – LONDON (AP) — Britain's surprise new Labour Party leader Ed Miliband on Monday pledged to bury the era of Tony Blair, promising to guide to power a generation of lawmakers untainted by divisive decisions over the Iraq war and the global financial crisis.
The 40-year-old Ed Miliband, his party's youngest postwar leader, has vowed to radically overhaul Blair's pro-business and Washington-friendly platform, but dismissed critics who call him "Red Ed," and have warned he will shift the centrist party toward the political left-wing.
He narrowly defeated his better-known brother David Miliband — the longtime favorite for the post — to became party leader in a vote of legislators, party activists and about 3.5 million labor union members.
Arriving at the second day of the party's annual conference in Manchester, northern England, Miliband said he planned to ditch the policies of Blair's New Labour — which moved the party away from its working class roots toward the political center-ground, winning three national election victories and 13 years in office.
"New Labour was right for its time and there are many aspects of New Labour that we will retain, like the idea that we appeal to all sections of society," Miliband said Monday. "But it came to be associated with a particular style of politics and got stuck in its own certainties."
Miliband has been sharply critical of Blair's decision to back the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and taken a tougher line toward Israel than his predecessors as leader.
His victory on Saturday followed ex-prime minister Gordon Brown's decision to quit as party chief after a humbling election defeat in May, when Labour trailed in second place and was ousted by the Conservative-led coalition government.
The new leader's defeated brother David, the 45-year-old ex-foreign secretary, said he had not yet decided whether to serve in his sibling's new team.
"Don't worry, I'll be fine," the elder brother said, referring to his defeat during a foreign policy speech to the party's convention.
Delegates gave David Miliband a standing ovation — and the brothers embraced — after he insisted there would be "no more cliques, no more factions, no more soap opera," and pledged to support the new leader. Miliband vowed he and his brother would not repeat the corrosive arguments of their respective mentors — Blair and Brown — which blighted the Labour Party's last period in office.
But the elder Miliband urged his brother not to shun alliances with the United States in any redrafting of the party's stance on foreign affairs — defending the importance of close ties to Washington and to the politically aligned Democratic Party.
"President Obama, Secretary Clinton — they are on our wavelength, they have got our values, they have got our priorities. We should be proud to be working with them every step of the way around the world," Miliband said.
Though he is yet to set out his ideas in detail, Ed Miliband supports Prime Minister David Cameron's plans to withdraw British troops from Afghanistan by 2015 and said he would back talks with some elements of the Taliban.
He previously urged Israel to end its blockade of Gaza, and has pledged to visit Gaza in his new role to discuss his approach on the Middle East peace process.
Some party stalwarts have urged the new leader to offer his brother the prestigious economic portfolio in his team, handing him a front line role as Labour sets out alternatives to the government's planned spending cuts.
The elder Miliband must decide by Wednesday whether to stand for election to his brother's opposition Cabinet, joining about 50 Labour legislators in a ballot for 19 places on the team. The new leader will allocate jobs when results are announced at the end of next week.
Labour's conference: http://www2.labour.org.uk/annual_conference_2010