Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Deserting the field!

David Miliband's decision not to stand for the shadow cabinet can be seen in two ways. The first is that he couldn't stand the idea of working for his younger brother, and is showing himself a bad loser. The second is that he felt that the media would constantly be trying to find tensions between them, and indeed create them , and that by standing aside, he allows Ed to forge the party he wants.

I expect in reality it is a mix of both. He wouldn't want to do anything to wreck the chances of the party he has been brought up in at the next election, or to overshadow his brother. But there is also a touch of pique about it, as though now the other kids won't let him be captain, he's taking his ball home, and leaving it to lesser talents to play the match.

Oh yes, David Miliband was probably the best player in the recent competition, but that didn't make him the best person to lead the team. One thing I'm pleased about, is that on Monday he made the best speech of the conference, as it saves the media telling us he did, even if he hadn't. A little division in the team makes better entertainment than a coherent unit, all playing the same way.

I suspect that in the short term he will remain an MP, but I don't expect him to stand again, and he may leave beforehand. That will depend on whether he stays a focus of media attention, constantly being touted as a replacement if Ed doesn't get immediate results with his changes.

However, now that David has taken the decision to move on, it does leave the field clear for Ed to mould the shadow cabinet as he sees fit. He can weigh up the pros and cons of those elected by their fellow MP's, and construct a cabinet to take on the government.

All the other leadership candidates have put their name forward, and although Diane Abbott didn't get too many votes from her fellow MP's, that is entirely different to being elected to serve in a shadow cabinet position. In fact, to give her some credit, if she is willing to give up her high media profile, and no doubt decent financial benefits of This Week, to try and help Labour back into power, means that the campaign has probably changed her outlook a lot. Politics is now about doing something, and not just protesting.

So, as he walks off the pitch, a lonely figure, as the rest of his former teammates gather around the new captain, I wish David Miliband well in whatever he does. I hope he can become reconciled to what has happened, and play some role in the future, supporting the Labour Party, and brother Ed, in returning Labour to government at the next election.

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