Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Time for Miliband to stop the teasing

While I was away sunning myself, it was evident that a head of steam was continuing to build up behind a challenge from David Miliband to Gordon Brown for the Labour leadership. One newspaper, the Observer, even reported that Blair himself was at the heart of the effort to persuade him to stand, and had privately predicted that if he did so, he would win.

Be that as it may, my Poll shows that Miliband is indeed the favoured contender of those who would like to see a Cabinet-level challenge to Gordon Brown - although his support is only marginally higher than those who would like to see Brown challenged by his own campaign manager, Jack Straw.

Miliband has several times appeared to rule himself out of the running, but has yet to do so in unequivocal terms. Writing in this week's Sunday Times, Crackers Cracknell and Isabel Oakeshott reveal that the Brown camp are not impressed by his failure to kill the speculation.

As one ally of the Chancellor put it: "Miliband can’t say it’s not his fault. He knows exactly what he is doing. He could quite easily say specifically, ‘I won’t stand against Gordon’ or that he is far less experienced than Gordon – something he couldn’t go back on. But he doesn’t."

I concur. I happen to believe David Miliband is a cut above most politicians in the honesty stakes and I have no reason to disbelieve his earlier declaration that he was "neither a runner nor a rider for any of the posts that are being speculated about."

If that remains the case, he should say so. But if he has changed his mind, he should make that equally clear. The current wave of speculation - egged on by the Martin Kettles and Mary Ann Siegharts of this world - is doing the Labour Party no favours at all.

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6 comments:

skipper said...

Paul
Agree. It seems the PLP is solid that Gordon is the next leader. DM has made it pretty clear he's not standing- he'd get slaughtered and damage his career anyway- so the Clarkes and Milburns should give up and accept the inevitable with good grace.

Honey Weeks said...

Actually, the continued speculation and discussion is a good thing...it is what differentiates us from a totalitarian dictatorship. The more discussion and speculation the better; Labour know that Brown is un-electable (he has the charisma of an accountant (sic.)) and so the PLP will be looking at who is more likely to win them another term, and hence their meal-ticket: Gordon is not that man!

The Little Cheese said...

Hello!

Agree with Honey, it seems that the more discussion there is, the more empowered the public will feel that they actually have a say in who takes over.

Having said that, it seems to me that this leadership 'battle' is between the media's favourite versus the person who feels he has waited long enough to get it.

I'm not sure either of them would actually have the public vote!

Man in a shed said...

My guess is that Miliband's strategy is the "Draft Miliband" approach - to put in American terms. After a bloody massacre of socialists in May's elections and poll indications that Miliband is popular with the public when Brown (Pension thief that he is) is not. He'll step in - all previous protestations that he wouldn't do so will be invalid due to changing circumstances (just see any two faced Blair maneovere for the precedent - in fact the original one would be re:Granita).

If Brown wants to be leader - for the 2 years left to this government - without a challenge then he'll have to save Labour in May.

Anonymous said...

Miliband is simply not experienced enough to mount a serious challenge to Brown. If Blair hoped to have him as a successor, he should have made him Foreign Secretary last year, or at least given him a departmental brief with executive responsibiliies, like Health or Education, or even the Communities and Local Government Brief (which he held, but under Prescott's direction, before the last major reorganisation). With most of the responsibility for Agriculture having transferred to the EU, Environment is little more than a policy job. Even John McDonnell is a more credible leadership candidate, thanks to his executive and finance experience in local government.

david kendrick said...

If Miliband had been made Foreign Sec, or the like, and did well, he'd have been undermined by GB. He would have been seen (accurately) as a threat. Certainly, what would be seen to be in GB's interests would carry more weight with him than what was to Britain's advantage.

GB will lead a limited but adequate govt. He will actually be much better at fighting Britain's corner than TB (can you see him handing back most of our euro rebate for,er, nothing?). But he will be far more unpopular.

A demob-happy TB looking after our interests at the June European summit? Worrying, or what?