Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Miliband's departure a sad end in the battle of the brothers

David Miliband's departure from politics to take up a high-profile charity post in the United States is a great loss both for UK politics and for the Labour party.

It also marks a sad end for the Miliband brothers following Ed's decision to first stand for the leadership then succeed at the expense of his older brother.

Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre's excellent biography of Ed lays bare the strife caused by Ed's
candidacy and eventual victory. One can only hope time has been a healer and these two loving brothers can again be as close as they once clearly were.

David could have believed he was the heir apparent and Ed should have deferred to him but I hope in time he will realise the party needed a leadership election.

Gordon Brown's election as leader in 2007 after the departure of Tony Blair was a disaster for Labour and with the electorate as he inherited the job of Prime Minister, a right which belongs to the voters not politicians.

His best chance to become leader was then, no other person in the party would have joined the race, especially not Ed who at the time had only been an MP for two years.

A lot will be written about David's departure but, having met and interviewed him in my professional life, I can say there was no one more dedicated into reviving a battered Labour party than him.

It would have been very easy for David to have slunk onto the backbenches, voiced disapproval at his brother's handling of the party and briefed against him.

Instead, whether for selfish means or not, he toured the country, talking to people and acknowledged where Labour went wrong.

Warm and charming to local journalists like myself, David had all the characteristics of Blair and while his brother's victory rankled with him, he never once showed it.

Maybe he should have accepted a job working in his brother's shadow cabinet but ask yourself this, could you easily accept a position when you had been dreaming about the top job? I don't think I could.

Ed's tribute to David suggests relations have thawed between the pair and perhaps David may yet return to politics in the future?

But for now David has new challenges and so does Ed, expect the Tories to perhaps accuse Ed of forcing his brother out of the party......

In response, Ed now needs to reach out to any remaining Blairites who believed in David and plead for unity, that way perhaps the battle of the brothers can be laid to rest once and for all.

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