Peter Hoskin

Miliband’s back with another vision

Miliband's back with another vision
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Oh look, David Miliband's got an article in the latest issue of Tribune expanding on - as the cover has it - "his vision for Labour".  Turns out a major part of that vision is "US style" primaries for selecting party candidates:

"The traditional political structures of mainstream political parties are dying and our biggest concern is the gap between our membership and our potential voter base...

...We need to expand our reach by building social alliances and increasing opportunity for engagement and interaction with our party...

...We say we want to listen to our voters, why not a system of registered voters as in the US to create the basis for primaries?"

As I wrote earlier this week, there are a few reasons why I think primaries are near-unavoidable for Labour.  Sure, as CoffeeHousers pointed out, they may struggle to meet the costs (estimated at £2.50 a vote in Totnes) - but Labour could always introduce them on a limited basis; maybe just in any constituencies blighted by expenses scandal between now and the next election.*

As for Miliband, it's difficult to see this as anything but another foray into the leadership game - about a year on from his last attempt to set out a "vision" for the Labour party.  The question, now, is how Downing Street responds, if at all.  I doubt Brown has enough political capital to do much beyond welcome this "contribution to the policy debate," or perhaps spin it as a Downing St-approved intervention.  Either way, he's already looking even weaker, only a couple of weeks into recess.

* Given that Eric Pickles thinks expenses controversy will claim around 17 more Tory MPs between now and the next election, it's a safe-ish bet that there'll be more Labour casualties too.

UPDATE: The article is published in full later today, but the Beeb's Laura Kuenssberg assures us that Brown is mentioned in it - in the second sentence, no less - unlike in Miliband's infamous Guardian article of last year.  Even so, it's still hard not to see this as Miliband dipping his toe into the leadership water - the "vision" word should always set alarm bells ringing.