29 Sep 2010

As Mili D quits, Mili E gets on with leading

While David Miliband was preparing his announcement that he would leave frontline politics, his brother was seeing some of those who’d like to stay in the Shadow Cabinet and introducing himself to them on the new terms: leader and led. Even very big hitters like Alan Johnson were given fairly stern reminders that loyalty was expected and required and they should be quite sure they could manage that.

Ed Miliband drew the curtains on another frontbench career today, not just his brother’s. He called in long-serving party whip Nick Brown for a chat and told him it would be better for the party if he stood aside. Nick Brown has long been a very divisive figure on the Labour benches, seen by Blairites as a Brownite viper in the nest. He had intended to run for the post of Chief Whip in the Shadow Cabinet elections and if he’d won, under the rules he helped to write, he would’ve had the job for the whole of this Parliament.

It will be noted as a credit by many on Ed Miliband’s decisiveness meter, his ruthlessness meter too. It will be seen as an attempt to break out from the battles of the past and could also help to give Ed Miliband the political space to make Ed Balls his Shadow Chancellor. Internal discussions continue on exactly who will get that critical post.

In Nick Brown’s place Ed Miliband would like, and is getting, Rosie Winterton, who had been standing in for Harriet Harman as Shadow Leader of the House and is a popular figure not seen as divisive. She is the only nomination for Chief Whip. No whiff of parliamentary democracy here … Ed M looks like he has decided who he wants and anyone thinking of challenging for the post has been firmly told to think again.

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