Monday, April 16, 2007

The Miliblog

Muxh excitement both in the blogosphere and the MSM today about the new pro-David Miliband blog, somewhat bizarrely entitled There is an Alternative.

I think it would benefit their cause if whoever is behind this were to reveal their identity. There is already speculation that it could be the work of a Tory blogger such as Conservative Home supremo Tim Montgomerie, and although I wouldn't have thought it was his style, such is the nature of politics that people will tend to assume the worst in such situations.

Either way, it is certainly looking more and more likely, as I predicted on Budget Day, that there will now be a serious challenge to Gordon Brown.

Brown is pretending to welcome this. He would indeed welcome a challenge from a useful idiot such as Charles Clarke. But Miliband is the one potential contender the Chancellor really fears, perhaps because he knows it could then be transformed into a generational contest he might struggle to win.

Clarke's own role in this is becoming increasingly transparent. His article in yesterday's Mail on Sunday seemed designed to create the ground for a challenge, arguing that once Tony Blair steps down events will assume their own momentum.

His argument that leadership elections always throw up unexpected surprises in these early stages might have been convincing if his article were not so completely historically illiterate - particularly in relation to Labour history.

Clarke claimed that Neil Kinnock emerged as a "surprise" contender following the resignation of Michael Foot in 1983. In fact Kinnock was overwhelming frontrunner from the moment the union leader and fixer Clive Jenkins announced he would be supporting him - before Foot had even formally announced his own resignation.

Similarly, he claimed that Jim Callaghan was an unexpected choice to succeed Harold Wilson, when everyone knows that the centrist Wilson purposely teed up the succession for Jim to scupper the Gaitskellite trio of Roy Jenkins, Denis Healey and Tony Crosland.

Update: Apparently the person behind it is called "Glass House." Not sure if this takes us any further forward, but apologies to Tim Montgomerie anyway.

Whoever "Glass House" is, what he needs to do is make clear not simply why he thinks Gordon Brown shouldn't be leader - it's fairly easy, though misguided in my view, to make an argument for that position based purely on current opinion polls - but to articulate why on earth he thinks David Miliband should be.

It would be an unprecedented step to elect, not just as party leader, but as Prime Minister someone who has not served in a major office of state. Environment is not even an executive department like health or education, and Miliband's is by and large a policy role, a bit like being head of the IPPR.

Given that Jack Straw is Brown's campaign manager, the only credible challenger to Gordon Brown in terms of experience and gravitas is John Reid. If he wants to prove that there is indeed an "alternative," that's where "Glass House" should be putting his efforts.

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Anonymous said...

Have you not seen this blog entry?

Paul Linford said...

Hadn't, but have now.

septicisle. said...

"Clarke's own role in this is becoming increasingly transparent."

Surely desperate?

VFTN said...

I have met Miliband and he is a) too smart and b) not vain enough to chuck his career away on a fruitless leadership campaign.

Peter Mc said...

Has any polling been done on voting intentions of a Brown vs Miliband-led Labour Party?