David Blackburn

Cruddas backs David Miliband for middle Britain

Cruddas backs David Miliband for middle Britain
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The rumours were true: Jon Cruddas has backed David Miliband. It’s an unlikely union on the face of it - an ambitious centrist and an almost utopian socialist. Though Cruddas once forged a partnership with the equally centrist James Purnell, so it is no great surprise that he is a pluralist. Cruddas tells the New Statesman that in ‘terms of the nature of the leadership that's needed, he's beginning to touch on some of those more profound questions that need to be addressed head-on.’

Is Cruddas right? Miliband has delivered the speech that he thinks will define his campaign. To be brutally honest, it was not profound. There was little other the usual Milibandian quota of abstractions and specious waffle. A favourite extract is:

‘To defeat this government, to renew our party, and to revive our country. That is the purpose of my candidacy for the leadership of our party. It means learning from the past but not simply repudiating it.’

His arguments were circular, not direct. He said that the public did not reject Labour’s values on 6 May, just personalities like himself; therefore, the party must renew itself and preferably under his leadership.

But, to be fair, Miliband’s conclusion was an effective plea for middle England and all that it represents:

‘London, that ‘Mansion House of Liberty’ to quote John Milton, this great city, did not give us dinner parties; it gave us life. Leeds, where I spent a formative part of my childhood and my dad was a teacher of politics, did not give us political theory; it gave us the middle class middle Britain security that comes from being part of a strong community, where you put in but you got too.’

That reads as trite and glib; but its strength is its simplicity. Briefly, Miliband overcame his wonkish predilection to over-complicate, proving that he actually can communicate. That said, he neither looks nor sounds like a PM in waiting.