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What is strange about the new Labour leader are the dogs that are not barking. There are only three times in the last century when an opposition party with the number of seats Labour has failed to win the next election. So unlike no-hopers such as Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock there must be a reasonable chance that Ed Miliband, just 40, could be a future Prime Minister.

If so, he will be the first PM who is a Jew, an avowed atheist and an unmarried father. Disraeli was born Jewish but his father had him baptised and he was able to enter the Commons because he was nominally a Christian. David Cameron's Anglicanism is the lazy hatch, match and dispatch churchgoing of the English upper class. There have been goatish Prime Ministers seeding unacknowledged children but so far, other than the odd bachelor Edward Heath, our PMs have always been properly married parents.

In the Commons, Ed is Edward Miliband. Each MP can choose how to be designated on the monitors in the Chamber that say who is speaking. Self-important politicians with PhDs like John Reid or Brian Mawhinney insist on being called "Dr" when their name appears. Gordon Brown, a proper intellectual, discarded his doctorate title long ago. When Miliband junior appears, it is as "Edward" not "Ed." No one ever dared call the aloof elder brother Dave, but Edward had always been Ed — until now.

One reason he won the leadership was that Labour MPs just felt comfortable with him in a way that his cleverer, more authoritative brother could not match. There were audible gasps in the Labour Party conference when Ed denounced the Iraq invasion. Lucky him. He did not have to take a decision on whether to topple Saddam Hussein or keep him in power. Telling the majority of Labour MPs that they were wrong was the moment when Ed shed his Prince Hal charm and dumped the Brown-Blair era of Falstaffs in the dustbin of history. In their first exchange at Prime Minister's Questions, poor Cameron was reduced to praying in aid Alan Milburn, now so forgotten that most Labour MPs wonder if he ever existed. Ed has ruthlessly disposed of Blair and Brown protégés such as Pat McFadden, Nick Brown and David Lammy, leaving them on the back benches.

David Miliband dutifully sat at the very back of the first Parliamentary Labour Party meeting his brother addressed, as if anxious to be present but careful to say nothing. Like Bobby Kennedy running against Jack, or Teddy running against Bobby, the sheer chutzpah of Ed's displacement of his older, more stellar brother is regarded with shock and awe in Parliament. Just as brutal was the sidelining of Labour's other golden couple, Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper. The latter was made Shadow Foreign Secretary, virtually a non-job as foreign policy questions never matter for the Opposition. In the last Parliament, the Tories went into an alliance in Brussels with what Nick Clegg called at the time "nutters, anti-Semites and homophobes". Yet despite negative publicity in the left-liberal press, no voter gave a toss. Ed Balls, who was handed the Home Office brief by Miliband, is naturally combative, overbearing and intellectually cocky. Coalition cuts to the police will allow Labour some room, but Ed knows he cannot simply promise to restore every cut. Blair cleverly used the position of Shadow Home Secretary to rebrand Labour as the party of law and order, with his famous slogan "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime". Balls has never uttered a pithy phrase in his life. When he barks at Teresa May across the Dispatch Box, few will listen. 

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