Peter Hoskin

The unions deliver Ed Miliband to the throne

The unions deliver Ed Miliband to the throne
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In the end, it was all quite exciting. After four months of soporific campaigning, after a speech by Gordon Brown, after tribute video upon tribute video, it all came down to an astonishingly tense round of results. And Ed Miliband edged out his brother by just over 1 percentage point overall, 50.6 to 49.4. It may have been the outcome that most punters expected coming into today – but it is not one that many would have predicted, with any confidence, back in May.

Looking at the full voting split, a less flattering picture emerges. David Miliband actually won two of the three voting blocks: the MPs turned out 53-47 in his favour, the members 54-46 likewise. But it was the unions wot won it for Ed: the brothers gave him their votes in a 60-40 ratio. This, as James said during our live blog, is a potential Doomsday Scenario for Labour. Yep, their leader achieved his mandate courtesy of the block that might have its name attached to industrial action in coming months. Try selling that one to the wider public.  

So while the support of Unite and Unison, and the leftist rhetoric, may have paid off for Ed Miliband today, he now has a grim struggle on his hands. The caricature  – "Red Ed"  – has already entered the political lexicon, and he needs to erase it if he's to hoover up the middle class votes that could deliver Labour back to power. He has the capacity to do so, I'm sure  – especially if he follows the example set by his brother over the last few weeks. But capacity is as nothing if it remains untapped.