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David Wright Miliband (born 15 July 1965) is a British Labour politician, who has been the Member of Parliament for South Shieldsmarker since 2001, and is the current Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. He is the son of the late Marxist theorist Ralph Miliband. He and his younger brother Ed Miliband are the first siblings to sit in the Cabinet simultaneously since Austen and Neville Chamberlain.

Born in London, Miliband studied politics at universities both in Englandmarker and the USAmarker, and started his career as a policy analyst at the Institute for Public Policy Research. At 29, Miliband became Tony Blair's Head of Policy whilst the Labour Party was then 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 Shieldsmarker.

Miliband spent the next several years in various junior ministerial posts in the British Government, 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, Miliband was promoted to Foreign Secretary, at 41, the youngest person to hold the position in 30 years.

Early life

Born in Londonmarker, David Miliband is the elder son of Jewish immigrants Marion Kozak and the late Marxist intellectual Ralph Miliband, who fled Belgium during World War II. Both his paternal grandparents lived in the Jewish quarter of Warsawmarker. His paternal grandfather, Samuel, a trained leather worker, left Poland immediately after World War One, settling in Brussels by 1920. His paternal grandmother, Renia (later known as Renée), also moved to Brussels, where she first met Sam, with the couple marrying in 1923. Hitler’s invasion of Belgium in May 1940 as part of the Nazis’ Western Offensive split the Miliband family in half: Ralph and father Samuel fled to England, while Ralph's mother Renée and baby sister Nan stayed behind for the duration of the war. They were not reunited until 1950. During his visit in Polandmarker in June 2009, Miliband visited his family tomb in the Jewish Cemetery in Warsawmarker. He also stated, that he is one of the million Britons who have Polish blood.

David Miliband attended schools in Londonmarker, Benton Park Schoolmarker in Leedsmarker and Bostonmarker, Massachusettsmarker before being educated at Haverstock Comprehensive Schoolmarker in North Londonmarker. He was admitted to Corpus Christi College, Oxfordmarker despite only achieving three B grades and a D in his A-level exams, but went on to obtain a first class honours degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. From 1988 to 1989 he took an S.M. degree in Political Science at MITmarker, where he was a Kennedy Scholar.

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.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. In the 2001 general election he was elected to Parliament for the Labour stronghold of South Shieldsmarker. 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 Ministermarker. 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.

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. 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.

He was the first British cabinet member to have a blog, though claims of excessive cost to taxpayer provoked some controversy. 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 he was referring specifically to health benefits.

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.

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 Deframarker Wiki site. It was subsequently linked to by blogger Guido Fawkes, and mocked, after which further edits by guest users were temporarily prevented. 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. 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.

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".

Foreign Secretary

On 28 June 2007, the day after Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, Miliband was appointed Foreign Secretary. He is 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, is 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.

On the same day that Miliband was appointed Foreign Secretary, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) completed its four-year review by deciding to refer the case of Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, back for a second appeal against conviction. On 4 July 2007 Dr Hans Köchler, UN-appointed international observer at the Lockerbie trial, wrote to Miliband calling the SCCRC's decision "long overdue" and reiterating his demand for "a full and independent public inquiry of the Lockerbie case." Köchler wrote again to Miliband on 21 July 2008 pointing out an error in the Libya page on the FCO'smarker website concerning the verdict in the Lockerbie trial, and criticising Miliband's withholding of evidence in the ongoing appeal process. The FCO corrected the error on its website and wrote to Koechler on 27 August 2008:
"Ultimately, it will be for the Court to decide whether the material should be disclosed, not the Foreign Secretary."

Miliband's first Foreign Officemarker questions session as Foreign Secretary in July 2007 in the House of Commonsmarker was marked by the strong response he made to shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague's criticism of the proposed EU treaty:
"The Right Hon.
Gentleman's memory has deserted him.
When he first entered this House, he worked with 11 other members of the current shadow Cabinet and 22 current Conservative front-benchers to vote against a referendum on the Maastricht treaty, which involved a smaller transfer of power."
On the morning of 13 December 2007, Miliband stood in for Prime Minister, Gordon Brown at the official signing ceremony in Lisbonmarker 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 Portugalmarker to sign the treaty in the afternoon.

As Foreign Secretary Miliband has pleaded for Turkish entry to the European Community and in an apparent departure from perceived neutrality caused H.M Queen to advocate this course at a State Dinner in Ankaramarker on 13 May 2008.

On 12 February 2009, a week after Miliband made a statement to the House of Commons concerning Guantanamo Bay detainee and former British resident, Benyam Mohammed, Mohamed’s American lawyer Yvonne Bradley met Miliband to press for her client's release from detention. On 23 February 2009, Benyam Mohammed returned to Britain and was granted temporary residence.

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 entering into force, Miliband was named as being under consideration for the post as EU officials regarded him as "ideal material". Miliband publicly insisted that he was not available to fill the post, as he was committed to remaining in the British cabinet.

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, who are long-standing critics of prime minister Gordon Brown. Miliband is one of the "Primrose Hillmarker Gang", a loose network of young Labour politicians and advisers that 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 have already 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 has been seen as an effort among his generation to prevent the Blairite/Brownite division continuing as some Labour party members see this division as having been more a product of personal historic rivalries arising from the 1994 leadership deal, rather than limited policy differences over public services. 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".

Leadership contender

On July 29, 2008, Miliband wrote an article in The Guardian which outlined his vision of a future of the Labour Party but made no mention of Gordon Brown. The piece was widely interpreted as a leadership challenge to the 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 refuting 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 believe a 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.


Comments over terrorism

In August 2009, Milliband was a guest on BBC Radio 4's Great Lives programme, choosing South African politician Joe Slovo. Milliband 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 attracted considerable opprobrium from senior political figures.

India trip

After his Indiamarker trip in 2008 post the Mumbai attacks, Milliband wrote in an article that "resolution of the dispute over Kashmirmarker 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". This sparked an angry response from the Indian government, whose long standing policy had been to not accept any third party involvement in the dispute of Kashmir. Some also suggested that his tone implied that India must shoulder some of the responsibility because of its policies in Kashmir. Miliband was accused of ignoring the complicated history of Kashmir, its origins and the historical role of Pakistan. 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".

Sri Lanka ceasefire

During the latter stages of the Sri Lankan Army's 2008/09 offensive against the LTTE, Miliband headed to Sri Lankamarker to press the government to call a ceasefire with the Tamil Tigers, citing concerns for civilians caught in the crossfire. Miliband's visit was met with protests by Sri Lankan nationalists, who accused Miliband of attempting to save the lives of Tamil Tiger militants. 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.

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 Shieldsmarker. A spokesperson said: "At every stage, David Miliband followed the procedures and rules as laid out by the parliamentary authorities".

Personal life

His wife, Louise Shackelton, is a violinist with the London Symphony Orchestra. Shackelton and Miliband have adopted two sons in the United Statesmarker: the first in December 2004 and the second in October 2007.

In answer to the question, "do you believe in God" raised in a 2007 Mail on Sunday survey, Milliband said that he did not believe in God.


Miliband has edited two books:
  • Paying for Inequality: Economic Cost of Social Justice (edited with Andrew Glyn), Rivers Oram Press, 1994, ISBN 978-1-85-489059-7
  • Reinventing the Left, Polity Press, 1994, ISBN 978-0-74-561391-8


  1. "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
  2. M. Newman, Ralph Miliband and the politics of the New Left, 2002, p. 5
  3. M. Newman, ibid, p. 5
  4. See also:
  5. See also:
  6. See also:
  7. "As international observer, appointed by the United Nations, at the Scottish Court in the Netherlands I am also concerned about the Public Interest Immunity (PII) certificate which has been issued by you in connection with the new Appeal of the convicted Libyan national. Withholding of evidence from the Defence was one of the reasons why the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred Mr. Al-Megrahi’s case back to the High Court of Justiciary. The Appeal cannot go ahead if the Government of the United Kingdom, through the PII certificate issued by you, denies the Defence the right (also guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights) to have access to a document which is in the possession of the Prosecution. How can there be equality of arms in such a situation? How can the independence of the judiciary be upheld if the executive power interferes into the appeal process in such a way?."
  9. Patrick Hennessy, Bruno Waterfield, "... or it could be Miliband, the EU international overlord", The Sunday Telegraph, 11 October 2009, p. 8.
  10. Nigel Morris, "Miliband 'will stay in government'", The Independent, 2 November 2009, p. 8.
  11. BBC - BBC Radio 4 Programmes - Great Lives, Series 19, Joe Slovo
  12. Miliband attacked over terrorism comments
  13. The Guardian
  14. The Guardian
  16. The Independent
  17. Miliband makes his mark, Vivienne Russell,

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