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A Political Family: Ed Miliband, his Bother David Miliband, & their Parents Marion and Ralph Miliband
Published: 1st July 2011
Last year the brothers Ed Miliband and David Miliband both stood in the Labour party's leadership contest. Although David was widely tipped to win, it was Ed who won in the end. Both of them had been part of the previous Labour government for many years at the highest levels. David had long been seen as a successor to Tony Blair (and a potential ouster of Gordon Brown), whilst Ed had been part of Gordon Brown's team since 1994.
But the Miliband family's involvement in politics goes back to the previous generation: Ed and David's father, Ralph Miliband (born: Adolphe Miliband, but changed his name during WWII upon coming to the UK, 'Adolphe/Adolf' not being a popular name in these parts at the time), was a widely read, respected and well-connected 'left-wing' academic and activist, and their mother Marion Miliband (born Dobra Kozak) was also an academic and activist. During their childhood and adolescence, Ed and David's family home was the scene not only of political debate but of visits from influential and well-known political thinkers and activists, including the occasional revolutionary.
David and Ed both went to Oxford University where they both studied what is often shortened to 'PPE' – Politics, Philosophy, and Economics. Neither of them have spent much time, if any, working in 'normal jobs'; they were quickly invited to work ever-closer to the leadership levels of Labour's team. After a brief stint as a current affairs journalist for television, in 1993 Ed was brought in by Harriet Harman to work as a number-cruncher/researcher and speechwriter, then in 1994 he was snapped up by Gordon Brown, becoming a senior aide. David's first job was as a political analyst at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), and after that he spent 4 years working for the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR - a think-tank with strong links to the Labour party), before working as the secretary for the Commission on Social Justice (which was established by the then-Labour leader John Smith, and which was and remains part of the IPPR), until in 1994 he became Tony Blair's head of policy. After becoming MPs (David in 2001, Ed in 2005), the brothers were both promoted into increasingly senior positions in government, including at Cabinet level, with David's rise being particularly fast.
The astrological charts
The birth times of the Miliband family are not known and therefore the following charts have all been calculated for midday, and the house cusps have been removed from the diagram. The Moon's position should be regarded as approximate: it may be within about 6-and-a-half degrees either side of the position shown. In one case (that of Ralph Miliband) the Moon changed signs on the day of birth, but in the other three members of the family we can be certain of the Moon's sign, even though we cannot know its degree.
Not having their times of birth means that we cannot calculate the MC-IC axes for them. In considering both career and family background this axis is of great import, however there is no way round it and we can still find many insights using just the data available.
We'll start with Ed Miliband's chart, since he is the current leader of the Labour party and therefore wields the most overt socio-political and media power in the UK at the present time.
Here is Ed's birthchart. He was born when the Sun was in Capricorn and the Moon was in Cancer, so the core of his personality straddles these two signs. The Sun and Moon represent the two polar-opposite sides of a person's nature, and having them in two polar-opposite signs tells us something already about Ed. He is a person who is likely to feel a tug inside himself about who he is and what his priorities are. It's not difficult to see how that might translate into a political context.
Unfortunately politics in the UK in our times is, as elsewhere, driven by image and Public Relations (PR) techniques. A person who is typical of a blend of Cancer-Capricorn is not really going to be comfortable with what PR requires, since they're not made of the same stuff that PR is made of. That's a good thing if you want to be a human being, but a bad thing if your party and a substantial proportion of the citizens are clamouring for you to become some kind of 'brand'. They want 'brands' to be inspiring and to have an enchanting effect on the public; the Cancer-Capricorn polarity is not intrinsically of that nature, so there would need to be other - and strong – chart factors to compensate. His Sun being in sextile with Jupiter doesn't help since his Sun is also trine Saturn, and Jupiter and Saturn are opposite one another. If Labour and/or Labour's supporters are looking for someone to sweep them off their feet, excite them and enchant the public to the point of buying into glossily-packaged hopes, they haven't found it in Ed. Thank god for that, you might say.
Ed's Mercury is in Capricorn so his speeches are not going to light fires or make people overcome with emotion, and yet his Mercury also forms septile aspects with both Uranus and Neptune. Not only that, but also Ed was born when Uranus and Neptune were making a septile aspect with each other, so what Ed has in his chart is a triple-planet link-up in the 7th harmonic: Mercury septile Uranus, Mercury septile Neptune, Uranus septile Neptune. Septiles (i.e. 7th harmonic aspects) are aspects of inspiration and that which is emotionally moving.
In fact, Neptune is halfway between Mercury and Uranus, which intensifies the relevance of this 3-planet configuration (Note: this midpoint was present throughout the whole 24-hour period of Ed's day of birth, so it applies no matter what his time he was born). It tells us that whilst Ed's delivery may be relatively dull, his mind is attuned to larger things. It has direct relevance to the Labour party, and the nuclear family which Ed grew up in, as we'll see in the rest of this article.
Now we turn to David's birthchart.
In David Miliband's chart the Sun is in Cancer – in Ed's the Moon is in Cancer – and the Moon is in Aquarius. This is almost the reverse of Ed's Sun-Moon combination; whilst Aquarius is not directly opposite Cancer, it is a Saturn-ruled sign just like Capricorn is, and both Capricorn and Aquarius are opposite in nature to Cancer. In fact, Aquarius is 'inconjunct' Cancer and is, in some ways, even more divergent than Capricorn from the Cancerian nature.
Furthermore, the Sun in David's chart is, in my view, not well-integrated. Astrologers who use wider orbs than me would say that there is a Grand Trine involving Sun, Saturn and Neptune, and perhaps that the Sun makes a sextile with Pluto, however I am not sure that I would agree. I find David's Sun in Cancer to be quite isolated, and thus to indicate a person whose caring side doesn't form a large part of his nature and conscious direction as the Sun ought to. In other words, I don't think he identifies himself with it. David's chart leans to his other planets: his Moon in Aquarius, which both Tony Blair and Princess Diana had and which represented that 'common touch' but also a tendency to be disconnected from the body and one's instincts, and to be an outsider; his Jupiter in Gemini, which is in sextile with his Mercury-Venus conjunction in Leo, indicating that David has Tony Blair's glib manner, vanity and superficiality, but not Diana's depth of feeling, nor her compassion for those who are cast out.
The brothers: Similarities and differences
If we want to pick out some of the broad similarities and differences between the charts of Ed and David, their Elemental distribution is a good place to start.
Ed's chart is mainly a combination of Earth and Water. David's is mainly Air and Fire; his Sun in a Water sign is the odd one out. The media has always dwelt on the fact that Ed was in Gordon Brown's camp whereas David was in Tony Blair's, so we know that there are differences in their political views, and we know from experience that there are differences in their presentation styles, but their charts confirm that their personalities are substantially different in nature.
Another broad-brush level difference is that David was born in 1965, which was the time when Uranus and Pluto were conjoined, opposite Saturn (and Chiron) and in a square with Jupiter. David was born right in the middle of this planetary configuration, and as such he is very much of that generation. This is a collective group which is currently coming of age on the leadership stage all round the world, so when the leadership contest didn't put David in the top job the Labour party skipped a generation. That must be meaningful, if only in the consequences it has.
Ed was born in 1969, right at the end of the Pluto-in-Virgo generation, but by this time Uranus had moved out of Virgo and was well into Libra and Neptune was right at the end of Scorpio, just minutes of arc away from entering Sagittarius. Ed belongs to a different group to David. He brings different collective character to the fore through his role at the helm of the Labour party. David would have brought those Uranus-Pluto-Saturn-Jupiter conjunction issues, which would have been very interesting given that we are now living through a critical phase of the Uranus-Pluto cycle, so it's interesting to note that Labour has skipped over that and brought something else to the front. It could mean that Ed just isn't in tune with the times whereas David is. But it could also mean that David would have reinforced the unhealthy things about Uranus-Pluto and Saturn.
Where Ed's chart does come into synchronisation with the times is with the Jupiter-Saturn cycle: Ed was born when Jupiter was opposing Saturn, and during the Labour party's leadership contest Jupiter and Saturn were once again opposite each other (interestingly, David was born when Jupiter was square Saturn, but Ed's Jupiter-Saturn opposition is closely configured with his Sun which brings it into his sense of self), and it did so again in March this year and will come within orb of opposition towards the end of this year through to the beginning of next year. I am not implying that I think that Ed has risen to the occasion because of these aspect resonances, I am just raising the connections as food for thought and to highlight the differences between the two brothers. Personally, I think that Ed has utterly failed to grasp the quality of the time and the needs of the country, and has responded very poorly indeed. Having said that, I don't think David would have done better, only different.
Let's look at the birthcharts of their parents now, because the Miliband reputation is a large one, even though it hadn't really registered with the general public before the leadership contest (and to some extent it still hasn't – the Miliband family background and Ralph Miliband's relevance to the Labour party and to 'left-wing' politics in the United Kingdom has not become common knowledge).
The parents: Marion and Ralph Miliband
Marion Miliband was born Dobra Kozak in 1934 in a place called Czestochowa, in Poland. During WWII her family suffered losses at the hands of the Nazi's, however Marion was one of those who survived. She arrived in the United Kingdom in 1947, aged 13.
The Sun changed signs at 1:49pm on the day Marion was born, so without an exact and reliable time of birth it's not possible to know whether it was in Sagittarius or Capricorn. We can be certain that the Moon was in Cancer however, so it would be very interesting if she was passing down the Cancer-Capricorn polarity to Ed.
Regardless of which sign the Sun was in it was making a trine aspect with Uranus, and Uranus in Aries was making a square aspect with Pluto in Cancer. Some astrologers, using wider orbs than I use, might consider the Sun to be making a quincunx aspect with Pluto, and although I agree that the Sun and Pluto are in aspect in Marion's chart I don't agree that it's a quincunx; in my view they are in a septile aspect, indicating that for Marion there was something compelling about powerful leadership and radical change. Depending on Marion's time of birth, the Moon might have been conjoined with Pluto. All in all, perhaps not surprising, then, that Marion was an activist.
Ralph Miliband was born Adolphe Miliband in 1924 in Brussels, the capital of Belgium. His family had moved there from Poland a generation earlier. On the 16th of May in 1940, as a result of the Nazi's advance into Belgium, Ralph and his father fled the country, arriving in the United Kingdom 3 days later on the 19th. Despite he and his father having successfully established themselves in the UK, the authorities were nevertheless difficult when it came to allowing the rest of the family to come here, and it wasn't until 1953 that the family were united.
Alongside his academic work as a professor and chair of politics, Ralph published several books. His first came out in 1961 and was called 'Parliamentary Socialism: A Study in the Politics of Labour'. It has been described by Leo Panitch (a Canadian professor, political thinker and writer who was a former student of Ralph's and who later worked with and became friends with him) as 'one of the seminal texts of the British New Left'. Furthermore, in 1964 Ralph co-founded and until 1990 co-edited the 'Socialist Register', described as one of the foremost magazines of the 'international left'. Recurring themes in Ralph's work were how the Labour party kept overcompromising with 'capitalism', and the relationship between business and politicians.
Marion and Ralph met when Ralph was teaching at the London School of Economics (LSE) and Marion was one of his students. They married in 1961.
Ralph died in 1994, on the 21st of May. (On 12th May 1994, the then-Labour party leader John Smith died, which paved the way for Tony Blair's ambitions to bring New Labour into being.)
In Ralph's chart the Sun is in Capricorn and the Moon is in either Capricorn or Aquarius, so here we have these signs cropping up again in this nuclear family's charts at the Sun-Moon level. Similarly to his wife Marion, Ralph has the Sun in an aspect with both Uranus and Pluto - a sextile and an opposition respectively, so his personal identity is wrapped up with collective issues and the need to be involved in radical changes at some level. Whereas his son Ed's Sun makes a sextile and trine to a Jupiter-Saturn opposition, Ralph's Sun makes a sextile and opposition to a Uranus-Pluto trine. Ed was, of course, not born into the same turbulent environment as was Ralph, and his identity was forged from a different type of experience.
Just like Ed, Ralph also has his Mercury in Capricorn, despite Ralph being described as an inspiring teacher and a very good speaker. Mercury's conjunction with the Moon, and its placement on the Jupiter/Uranus midpoint (that is, the halfway mark between Jupiter and Uranus measured around the circle of the Zodiac) show a different colouring from Ed's Mercury, which is on the Saturn/Uranus midpoint. In addition, we must keep in mind that we do not know anything about the 3rd houses of their charts, or their Ascendant-Descendant axes, both of which say a lot about how a person makes contact with and comes across to other people. Another chart factor which has something to say in this matter is the fact that Ed's Mars is in Pisces, which is quite different in 'flavour' from Ralph's Mars in Scorpio – the way in which their energy works is on one hand looser, more diffused and more tranquil (Pisces), and on the other more intense, driven and battling (Scorpio).
Some astrological family themes
Some astrological family themes which can be picked out of these charts, aside from the Cancer-Capricorn/Aquarius one already mentioned, are the repeating occurrences of the Uranus-Neptune and Uranus-Pluto cycles.
First, the Uranus-Neptune pairing. Ed was born when there was a septile (a 7th harmonic aspect) between these two planets. David was born when there was an undecile (an 11th harmonic aspect) between them. Ralph was born when there was a septile between them. Marion doesn't quite fit the pattern, but she was born when the planets were separating from a sesquiquadrate aspect (8th harmonic).
Second, the Uranus-Pluto pair. Ralph was born during a Uranus-Pluto trine. Marion was born when Uranus and Pluto were square. David was born when they were conjoined. Ed doesn't fit the pattern (unless you use a wide orb), as he was born when the planets were over 11 degrees apart.
When Ed won the leadership contest and David lost it Uranus and Neptune were making an 11th harmonic aspect. The prior campaigns were run during a Uranus-Neptune semi-sextile and a Uranus-Pluto square. Just after the contest concluded the Uranus-Neptune semi-sextile came back within orb for several months.
Most significantly, when the Labour party was created in February 1906 Uranus was almost exactly opposite Neptune, whilst Uranus was also making an 11th harmonic aspect with Pluto. The Uranus-Neptune cycle in particular is very tied to the Labour party; the party was born at the opposition and (depending on your perspective) either died or was supplanted by or else morphed into 'New Labour' half a cycle later at the conjunction in the early 1990s. And just like Ralph and Marion Miliband, the Labour party's Sun is strongly configured with Uranus and Pluto.
The leadership contest: September 2010
Finally, some words about the transits at the outcome of the leadership contest in September last year.
On the afternoon when the winner was announced the Sun was forming an almost exact square with Pluto, from 2 degrees 29 minutes Libra to 2 minutes 49 minutes Capricorn. If you look at how that fits with David's chart you'll see that it doesn't, whereas if you look at Ed's chart I think you'd immediately have been inclined to predict that Ed would win the contest and David would lose: Ed's Sun is at 2 degrees 28 minutes of Capricorn.
Obviously other transits need to be taken into account and we need to bear in mind that we don't have their birth times and so can't calculate their house cusps, however going by transits to natal chart planets alone there really wasn't much going on in David's chart to suggest a winning streak or a coming to power, whereas Ed's transits did suggest that he was more likely to be involved with power at that time. In short, the planetary action was focused much more on Ed's chart than on David's.
With thanks to the following online sources of biographical information:
Biographical article of Ralph Miliband at the Lipman-Miliband trust website
Guardian newspaper article about the Milibands - 'In the house of the rising sons - Part 1'
Guardian newspaper article about the Milibands - 'In the house of the rising sons - Part 2'
Article by friend of Ralph Miliband – 'Britain's new political dynasty'
Guardian profile of Ed Miliband
Guardian profile of David Miliband
Guardian info on & writing about Ralph Miliband
David Miliband biographical information
Telegraph newspaper article about Marion Miliband
Telegraph review of new biography about Ed Miliband
Blog article by childhood friend of the Miliband brothers
Biographical article about Ralph Miliband written by Leo Panitch
Official website of 'The Socialist Register' publication
Extracts from Tony Benn's published diary entries mentioning the Milibands
Nick Clegg, David Cameron,
Ed Miliband, MP Expenses, EU, USA, France, Australia, Uranus in Pisces & Neptune in Aquarius, & more
Euro Currency, NHS, BBC,
USA economy, Ofcom, Concorde, W Edwards Deming, European Central Bank, stock markets, & more
Health, emotional intelligence, Zodiac elements, understanding change, Russell Brand, James Bond, Angelina Jolie, Desmond Tutu, & more