29 Sep 2010

Ed Miliband takes out another target

One of the strangest things about this “new generation” of Labour politicians was set to be the fact that the man who was the first chief whip back in 1997 (responsible for getting Labour MP’s to vote with the leadership through a combination of dark arts and gentle pursuasion) was to continue in the job with the added power of being directly elected. But Nick Brown has just released a letter saying he is stepping aside after a meeting Ed Miliband in which the new leader asked him not to stand for election.

“As you know I intended to stand for election as chief whip,” Mr Brown said, “During our meeting earlier today you indicated that you wished me not to do so. The chief whip must have the full confidence of the party leader. I fully respect your wishes and will no longer be standing for the position.”

The elected Chief Whip post has been causing great consternation among more experienced shadow cabinet members, who think it is a recipe for trouble when the Chief Whip has his own power base.  One told me recently it would have been a total nightmare for David Miliband, had he won the leadership, to have Nick Brown as his Chief Whip, because Mr Brown is from the wing of the party that caused so much trouble for Tony Blair.

For political obsessives this is one of those significant moves that has little resonance in the wider public. But inside Labour it will help Ed Miliband with party discipline and send a message that he is in charge. Another ruthless move.

Incidentally I can’t help but laugh as the rolling news channels still pretend there is any doubt about David Miliband’s intentions. He’s been posing for photographs on the steps of his home, in London, wearing a casual shirt and jeans. If he’s standing for the shadow cabinet I’m a banana.


Its just emerged that Jim Fitzpatrick – the rival to Nick Brown is also pulling out of the Chief Whip race, so it appears there has been a deal. There are reports Rosie Winterton is likely to be the leadership’s favoured candidate

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