New Labour leader says he won’t be “Red Ed”

Britain’s newly appointed opposition leader Ed Milibandinsisted Sunday he won’t force his Labour Party toward the political left-wing after he harnessed the support of leftist labor unions to beat his better-known brother in a dramatic election.

Miliband, 40, narrowly defeated brother David, the 45-year-old ex-foreign secretary, in their party’s leadership contest on Saturday, winning a slender majority of 1.3 percent of votes.

Critics have already dubbed Miliband “Red Ed,” claiming he is likely to shift the Labour Party away from the centrist, business-friendly platform of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

“I am nobody’s man, I am my own man. I am very clear about that,” Miliband told BBC television Sunday, in a first interview as party leader, insisting he would not be beholden to his labor union backers.

He said his leadership would not see a turn toward the political left, but insisted his party must break decisively from the dogma of Blair and Brown — and lay to rest divisive arguments over the decision to back the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

“It is not about some lurch to the left, absolutely not. I am for the center ground of politics,” said Miliband, who was confirmed as leader at a rally in Manchester, northern England. Legislators, party activists and about 3.5 million labor union members voted in the contest.

In his campaign, Miliband advocated the retention of a temporary 50 percent tax rate for high earners, a more punishing levy on banks and a steep rise in the country’s national minimum wage.

He said he favored the use of tax hikes in place of some proposed public spending cuts — but told the BBC on Sunday that he would not oppose all austerity measures being put forward by Prime Minister David Cameron’s government.