27 Sep 2010

David Miliband delays decision

Defeated Labour leadership contender David Miliband will not make a decision until Wednesday on whether he will join his younger brother’s Shadow Cabinet team, writes Political Editor Gary Gibbon.

Mr Miliband, who was beaten by his brother Ed in the Labour leadership election on Saturday, told the party’s annual conference in Manchester today that his message to his supporters was: “Don’t worry, I will be fine.”

Paying tribute to his brother, he said: “We have a great new leader and we have to all get behind him.”

He said he was “incredibly proud” of Ed, adding: “Ed is a special person to me. Now he is a special person to you and our job is to make him a special person for all the British people.”

The waiting game

David Miliband will make no decision till Wednesday on whether to join his younger brother's team, writes Gary Gibbon. In answers to journalists this morning David Miliband suggested that a big factor weighing in his decision making is how the psychodrama between him and his brother will dominate everything his brother does if he hangs around.

That, decoded, is what David Miliband is saying when he talks about deciding what's "best for the Labour Party."

Apart from two face to face meetings between the brothers there have been contacts between intermediaries - David Miliband trying to work out, like many others round this Conference, exactly where his brother is taking the party.

Labour voices
Channel 4 News
talked to delegates about Mr Miliband’s speech. Paul Clark, the former Labour MP for Gillingham, said “I hope that David will decide to put his hat in the ring because he has great qualities to offer. To win you have to have good leadership and good policies – and that comes from a strong team. But at the end of the day it’s his decision, and we’ll know by Wednesday.”

Nick Thomas-Symonds, from Torfaen constituency Labour party, said it was an “elegant speech which sought to unite the party”.

He said: “I’ve always thought the greatest test of the metal of a politician is not in victory but in defeat”, adding that Mr Miliband’s future was “obviously for him to think about, but I hope it is a very senior role”.

Kevin McAdam, from Northern Ireland CLP, said it was an “admirable speech for a failed candidate” and “very gracious”. He added: “I’d like to seem him play a main role. His speech demonstrated his experience in government, and I expect him to take a lead role.”

Gillian Boatman, from Brigg & Goole CLP, said it was “absolutely brilliant”, adding: “It was down to earth, and about how we all have to unite. It was nice to see his brother and him together. I want to see him in a good position (in the Shadow Cabinet) and working with his brother.”

Ed Miliband praised his brother’s speech, saying: “That was a great and inspiring speech by David. He was very, very generous about me and really inspired the hall. I think it shows the determination this party has to unify going forward and unify as a team.”

Earlier, he indicated he would not make decisions about the Shadow Cabinet until next week at the earliest and dismissed suggestions of a “psychodrama” in his relationship with his brother.

“There is no psychodrama,” he said.

“Don’t worry, I will be fine” – David Miliband

Asked if his brother David would join his team, Mr Miliband said: “That’s a decision for him and he will make the decision in his own way and his own time, and I think that’s right.

“We had a very nice discussion on Saturday, but he needs his own time to think about what he is going to do.

‘Incredibly loyal’

“I think David is someone who is incredibly loyal, both to me and to the country. He will make his own decision about the best thing for him, and I think that is the right thing.”

During the leadership election campaign, David Miliband said he would be prepared to serve in a Shadow Cabinet headed by his younger brother, who until Saturday had always been his junior in politics.

He has to decide by 5.00pm on Wednesday if he wants to join Ed Miliband’s top team.

It is thought that having been Foreign Secretary, only the Shadow Chancellor’s job would tempt him. Otherwise, he could decide to leave Labour politics and seek a position abroad.

‘Strong campaign’
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Yvette Cooper, said Labour would “benefit hugely” if David Miliband stayed in frontline politics. She said: “I really hope that David does stay on in the Shadow Cabinet because I think he’s an excellent politician.

“I think he ran a really strong campaign and I think we would hugely benefit from him in Labour’s senior team.

“He’s got to make his decision about what he wants to do next but from my point of view, from our point of view, I really hope that he can be part of the Shadow Cabinet.”

‘Red Ed’
Ed Miliband has rubbished the idea that he is “Red Ed” and said instead he wants to move the party to the centre ground.

Shadow Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said: “Ed Miliband wants to capture the best of the radical spirit of Labour when we were at our best in the mid 1990s, but for a modern age.”

In a debate hosted by Channel 4 News, Labour MP Chuka Umunna and James Forsyth, the political editor of the Spectator, discussed the much-chased concept of the “centre ground” in politics – and whether Mr Miliband can take his party there.

“I think the centre ground is up for grabs,” Mr Umunna said. “There’s room there for people on the centre left, if you like, to claim the centre ground for that sort of politics.”

Mr Forsyth said: “Blair and Cameron looked at where the centre ground was, looked at where the voters were, and took their parties there. The way in which Ed Miliband is like Margaret Thatcher is he wants to redefine where the centre ground is, he wants to bring people into a new definition of it.”