David Miliband’s departure shows Ed is set to be the next Prime Minister


8:33 pm - March 27th 2013

by Salman Shaheen    


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Ed Miliband says that British politics will be a “poorer place” now that his brother David is stepping down as an MP to run the International Rescue Committee.

This is likely to be a contentious point for many on the Labour left who will be keen to see the party cleansed of Blairite clones like David Miliband. But Ed himself also has reason to celebrate in private – his brother’s departure is the surest sign yet that he is on course to become the next Prime Minister.

When David refused a place in Ed’s cabinet, many saw him as the leader in waiting, silently biding his time until his brother inevitably slipped up and he could slip into his shoes before the next election.

And Miliband certainly made slips in his early days. But David’s departure shows just how much has changed. He surely recognises that Ed will be leading Labour into the next election and he is quietly confident, as many in the party now must be, that Ed will be the next Prime Minister.

Ed’s widely praised One Nation Labour speech was certainly a turning point. Sure, he was never going to be the next Martin Luther King, but he displayed his ability to lead his party and communicate an alternative. Though he was met with boos when he told the anti-cuts rally on October 20th that a Labour government would still have to make cuts, he showed his willingness to engage with a vital movement instead of ignoring its existence.

Ed’s success, of course, has much to do with declining Conservative fortunes as the government’s failure to return the economy to growth leaves voters unwilling to stomach punishing cuts for the greater good. But with the largest poll lead in a decade, the election is Labour’s to lose.

Nevertheless, there will be plenty of arguments and divisions ahead.

His decision to have Labour MPs abstain on the workfare bill has infuriated the left. There will be many who will say this proves Labour has learned little from the Blair years. A significant number of traditional Labour voters still believe that Labour is not the right vehicle to defend the welfare state which was its greatest achievement.

“The shadow cabinet should re-read [Labour’s 1945] manifesto to capture a whiff of the sheer nerve and daring of 1945,” writes Polly Toynbee. “Instead, they behave as Roy Jenkins said of Tony Blair before 1997, as if they were carrying a Ming vase across a polished floor, afraid of dropping it before election day. But they have no Ming vase, the election is not won and their caution holds them back, as too many disaffected voters reject the old parties.”

Ed Miliband must listen to these voices. The departure of his Blairite brother should mark the dawning of a new era for a Labour party that has learned from its mistakes.

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About the author
Salman Shaheen is the editor of International Tax Review magazine, co-editor of The Third Estate and a freelance journalist blogging here. Also at Left Foot Forward, New Statesman and on Twitter.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Labour party ,Westminster

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Reader comments


The 45 comparison was after the working class had made such a sacrifice that never again would Victorian values of no education ,homelessness and people dying cos they couldn’t afford to see a Dr would happen, yes the 45 manifesto was brave and if the public feeling would be to have borrowing from the USA for years to build homes as the whole of. He country had been flattened in war ,then that would be different,

Also caution is best placed when the Tories are good. At coming back from 20 points behind and using labour handling of the economy in the past to help them get re elected,

2. The Maelstrom of My Memory

I’d have thought that David’s departure is not altogether unconnected with a $430,000 salary per year and lots more contacts for future use.

We don’t know who is going to win in 2years time. I remember David Miliband saying that the next ten years will be Labour years. How wrong was he?

“We don’t know who is going to win in 2years time. I remember David Miliband saying that the next ten years will be Labour years. How wrong was he?”

True but it will be either Labour or the conservatives and none of the rest.

“Ed Miliband must listen to these voices.”

Toynbee?

Really?

Re-read the 1945 manifesto? How about reprinting a chunk of it on the cover of the next one:

“Great economic blizzards swept the world in those years. The great…slumps were not acts of God or of blind forces. They were the sure and certain result of the concentration of too much economic power in the hands of too few men. These men had only learned how to act in the interest of their own…private monopolies…They had and they felt no responsibility to the nation.

Similar forces are at work today…the anti-controllers and anti-planners desire to sweep away public controls, simply in order to give the profiteering interests and the privileged rich an entirely free hand to plunder the rest of the nation…

Does freedom for the profiteer mean freedom for the ordinary man and woman…? Just think back…the Big Interests had things all their own way. Never was so much injury done to so many by so few. Freedom is not an abstract thing. To be real it must be won, it must be worked for.”

7. Shatterface

Ed’s success, of course, has much to do with declining Conservative fortunes as the government’s failure to return the economy to growth leaves voters unwilling to stomach punishing cuts for the greater good.

For ‘much to do’ read ‘entirely down to’. Miliband’s party is no more a party of the working class than Blair’s was – as their continued support for cuts and workfare proves.

Their only hope is that the Conservative fuck up and people have short memories.

But with the largest poll lead in a decade, the election is Labour’s to lose.

Precisely: the next election is going to be ‘won’ by the party which loses least. The party which manages to draw the least attention to itself will be blamed the least for the country’s woes – hence the election of a complete non-entity as nominal ‘leader of the opposition’

I agree Shatterface, Labour needs to be much bolder and the left needs to be much more demanding on Miliband.

The departure of one fratricidal millipede for the NGO gravy-train could just as easily be taken to suggest that he wants to distance himself from his brother’s impending electoral defeat. Who knows? Who cares?

I don’t think so TONE, I think if David had suspected Ed would have been pushed out before the election, or if he were likely to lose the election, he would have stayed waiting in the wings.

11. Charlieman

David Miliband’s departure shows that Prince Philip is a lizard.

David Miliband’s departure shows that Paul Daniels is a sex magnet.

David Miliband’s departure shows, perhaps, that David Miliband feels that he is uncomfortable and seeks another career. As a human being, I wish him best wishes.

“The departure of his Blairite brother should mark the dawning of a new era for a Labour party…”

Who, beyond political wonks, thought/understood that David Miliband was a Blairite? Why should the absence of this person in parliament be so significant? Keynes has been dead for 50 odd years, never an MP, but debate about his ideas continue.

Gould, Labour MP, leadership challenger: can you spell his first name without cheating?

12. Matthew Blott

Er, yeah, if you say so.

13. Planeshift

“Also caution is best placed when the Tories are good. At coming back from 20 points behind and using labour handling of the economy in the past to help them get re elected,”

Handling of the economy is largely an issue of competence rather than policy. Provided labour don’t announce a policy that is too unusual on this (such as doubling income tax) then they’ll probably be alright from a policy perspective. In 2015 the public will be frankly bored of austerity. Limited attention spans and all that. There are already enough businessmen and economists arguing for a stimulus that enough credibility can be given to such a thing. A few well publicised examples of wealthy businessmen making large donations to the party will be enough to counter the weakness I think.

It’s the competence side they need to get right. This basically means labour have to demonstrate organisational competence in opposition. Things like ensuring the key media figures in the shadow cabinet aren’t seen to be divided, and they stick to the same message in public. (which is why Liam Byrne is a liability – he simply no longer has the respect of his colleagues). On an organisational level, making sure the website is regularly updated, sufficient funds are raised and so on.

The tories are falling in the polls largely because of competence, they are seen as incompetent and are now infighting with David Cameron openly under threat. Thatcher was hated by many, but was never seen as incompetent and unable to lead her party prior to the poll tax.

While Ed is almost certaintly the next Prime Minister, unless there is a major upset, I think that David’s departure is more to do with him not being leader in the first place, then anything to do with how well Ed is doing, or the real possibility of Labour returning to government.

After he lost the 2010 leadership election, David lost his opportunity to be Labour leader.

15. Renie Anjeh

Can we stop with this whole ‘Blairite clone’ thing? There is no ideological difference between David Miliband and Ed Miliband. Ed wanted to be leader and David wanted to be leader. They both have different ideas on how to lead the party, different supporters and one felt they could be better Prime Minister than the other. As long as Liam Byrne, Mary Creagh, Caroline Flint, Andy Burnham, Jim Murphy, Hilary Benn (to some extent) and others leave the Shadow Cabinet, then the so-called ‘Blairite clones’ will remain – and they are very influential at the moment.


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