Isn’t David Miliband flip-flopping?

8:50 am - July 13th 2010

by Sunny Hundal    

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Here is David Miliband from the first Labour leadership hustings, hosted by the New Statesman (from 4m 37 secs):

I’m campaigning on the manifesto that we actually stood on. And the manifesto that we stood on said that we had a defense review in 2006… [interrupted by audience].

I’m sorry but I’m not the kind of person who is going to stand on the manifesto in May and in June tell you I want to tippex out bits of it. I think that’s very important.

That sounds like someone who thinks the party was making the right choices and taking the right decisions going into the election.

And yet this is Davd Miliband just a few days ago:

In his strongest criticism of the former prime minister, Miliband claimed Brown failed to turn his technical skill in handling the banking crisis into a moral crusade, with the result that voters did not know which side the party was on.

Far from correcting them, failings – tactics, spin, high-handedness – intensified; and we lost many of our strengths – optimism born of clear strategy, bold plans for change and reform, a compelling articulation of aspiration and hope.

“We did not succeed in renewing ourselves in office; and the roots of that failure were deep, not recent, about procedure and openness, or lack of it, as much as policy.”

Seems that David Miliband wants to have his cake and eat it too.

He can’t be the candidate who says that nothing was seriously wrong with the last 13 years at one event, and then later say the party had lost its way.

Which one is it going to be?

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments

1. Flowerpower

I think you are being a bit hard on David Miliband. In the first quotation he is clearly talking about thoroughly considered and formally adopted policy. In the second, he is talking about tactics and political culture. So, I don’t see there is necessarily a conflict between the two.

It certainly would not do Labour any favours in terms of public credibility if it ditched large parts of it’s manifesto within a few months of the election, casually saying “that was then; this is now” in areas where the facts/situation haven’t altered significantly.

I’m sorry that I didn’t realise sooner that we were useless.
Not that we were.

I’m beginning to shift my support to him from Balls!

I don’t see why Miliband feels he has to stand by everything in Labour’s manifesto. Firstly, the manifesto wasn’t exactly a great success so it’s hardly unreasonable to consider a change of direction, and secondly campaigning on the manifesto doesn’t mean you agree with every part of it – you accept collective responsibility and support the package as a whole. That doesn’t apply now the election is over and Labour is in opposition.

Short answer, no.

As Flowerpower poins out, in the first quote he’s specifically talking about the manifesto. The second quote is more about style and broad direction.

What he seems to be saying in quote 1 is that having been responsible collectively as part of Cabinet for the manifesto, he’s not going to start pretending a few weeks later that it’s nothing to do with him. Which is why, even though I think Ed Balls is doing a good job in giving Michael Gove a deserved pasting, I’m not going to back Ed Balls for leader.

(I’m not backing DM, either, but at least he should be treated fairly).

Heh nice bit of swift boating Sunny on behalf of your preferred candidate Ed Miliband! Couldn’t you find glaring inconsistencies in his campaign if you looked?

Didn’t he write the last Labour manifesto and is now telling people Labour should move on from the past? Doesn’t that mean they [Labour] should move on from his leadership candidacy to a serious candidate who can actually lead the party through renewal to governance?

“He can’t be the candidate who says that nothing was seriously wrong with the last 13 years at one event, and then later say the party had lost its way. ”

You can, its called triangulation and it was extremely succesful for Clinton and Blair.

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  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Isn’t David Miliband flip-flopping?

  2. sunny hundal

    @RichardAngell Erm – the same manifesto David Miliband says he will stick by?

  3. sunny hundal

    @Ayse_Veli I'm saying the manifesto was and ic collective responsibility. Of course Ed M had a part to play. And see:

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