Miliband: Hated by his brother and the unions. Loved by... Nadine Dorries?

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Ed Miliband and wife Justine arrive in Manchester for the party conference.
Ed Miliband and wife Justine arrive in Manchester for the party conference.

Ed Miliband was experiencing a strange twist of fate today, as he faced disputes with his brother and trade unionists only to be supported by Tory right-winger Nadine Dorries.

The maverick Conservative backbencher warned her party to be wary of the Labour leader, in an article for ConservativeHome suggesting he was "extremely kind".

She wrote: "The fact that six out of ten can't see him as a prime minister means nothing when they don't see very much of him at all.

"Ed Milliband is still a rapidly developing, and to many, unknown quantity. And what is worse, he is genuinely an extremely kind and really nice guy.


"People are shortly going to notice this for themselves and may feel that the distorted, left-wing policies which got the country into such a mess don't sound so bad when coming from such a nice man."

In an interesting attack on her party leader which suggests assumptions about David Cameron's personal lead over Miliband may not stand up to scrutiny, Dorries then argued the prime minister could be vulnerable to the Labour leader's abilities.

"Polls tell us that people feel a greater 'connection' to Ed Milliband than to Cameron," she wrote.

"That word, 'connection', should carry one humongous, red flashing warning light above it for us Conservatives. People won't vote for a party if they don't feel they can connect with its leader.

"Ed Milliband is still the mystery opponent. To underestimate him would be utterly foolish. The British public may decide he's too weak and not for them or, alternatively, they may embrace his warm, just a normal man in the street, down to earth manner."

The comments were far removed from those reportedly issued by his brother, in excerpts from Medhi Hassan and James Macintyre's updated biography of the leader of the opposition.

The book quotes Davis Miliband as saying his brother would "crash and burn".

It also says the elder sibling is still "psychologically scarred" by losing the leadership election and blanks his brother's colleagues when they pass him in Westminster.
Last night David Miliband tweeted: "Judging by extracts about me in the Mail on Sunday, updates to Ed's biography should be filed in the fiction section - i.e. made up."

Even Harriet Harman, his deputy, was being less that helpful to Ed Miliband when she told the BBC's Sunday Politics that many voters still had no idea who he was.

"He is as he is, whilst recognising that actually people do need to get to know him better," she said.

"A lot of people don't know who the leader of the opposition is, especially only two years into his role."

Harman also backed Alan Johnson's comments that Labour needed to put out more concrete policy proposals.

"As Alan Johnson - and we all agree - rightly says, is we need to set forth our plans, because people want to know that Ed Miliband has a strong set of plans so that the politics of a government can make a difference to their life, and he's very determined he will do that," she said.

The Labour leader was also facing criticism from Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, whose members are a major source of funding for the party. The union leader said he could break relations if he did not feel he was being listened to and demanded Labour stop supporting pay restraint in the public sector.

"'He's wrong. He's entitled to his view, but he's wrong," Miliband said this morning on the Marr programme.

"There's no future for this party as of one sectional interest in society. We must be a party of the private sector as well as the public sector."
Miliband stood by Labour's links to the trade unions, however.

"The link with trade union members gives us a link with people up and down this country who know what life is like at the sharp end," he said.

The Labour conference starts today in Manchester.

politics.co.uk will be providing news, analysis, comment, blogs and full speech transcripts throughout the conference period.

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