James Forsyth

David Miliband has the best of it as the Labour leadership candidates debate

David Miliband has the best of it as the Labour leadership candidates debate
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David Miliband’s performance in Sky News’ Labour leadership hustings will have calmed the nerved of his supporters. In the run-off between him and his brother, David came out on top. His answers were generally sharper and he managed to parry away Ed’s criticisms on tuition fees and foreign policy. (In a pointed remark, Ed said that the Labour government’s foreign policy had been based on ‘old ideas’.) Indeed, Ed Miliband only seemed to get going in his closing statement which was pitch-perfect

David’s best moment came when the contenders were asked to pick between Blair and Brown. Ed Balls opted for Brown, Diane Abbott said that Brown ‘was the better man’ and then it was the elder Miliband’s turn. Without missing a beat, he answered ‘David Miliband.’ It was the perfect, commanding answer.

Ed Miliband again used the toughest language about the Liberal Democrats. He said that Labour must ‘defeat coalition candidates’ in next May’s election and show the Lib Dems that ‘Nick Clegg is leading them off a cliff.’

Andy Burnham now appears to be campaigning to be shadow Secretary of State for Health, talking almost exclusively about his plan for a National Care Service and as the race for second preferences intensifies both Milibands lavished him with praise. Ed Balls was his usual feisty self. He might be an also-ran in the campaign but he is boosting his standing in Labour circles with the fluency and frequency of his attacks on the coalition.