David Blackburn

Miliband’s New Generation draws the line under donor peers

Miliband’s New Generation draws the line under donor peers
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Patronage remains a strong statement of leadership, and an indication of a leader's competence. As James noted yesterday, Ed Miliband chose the occasion to play one of his few picture cards: Maurice Glassman’s accession into red ermine is a major PR coup for Labour in the battle to be ‘progressive’ and community-focused.

But Miliband’s list is also noteworthy for those it excluded. The Times has the details (£):

‘He decided against handing seats in the House of Lords to Nigel Doughty and Sir Ronald Cohen — who have given more than £6 million to the party since 2005 — as well as Jon Mendelsohn, Labour’s fundraising chief.

All three had been on a list drawn up by Gordon Brown, but The Times can reveal they were later told they would not be nominated. Sir Gulam Noon was the only significant donor on the new list, to show “Generation Ed was drawing a line under the past”.’

To be fair to Miliband, his list contrasts markedly with Cameron’s: Feldman, Fink et al versus cuddly curry purveyor, Sir Gulam Noon. It may be smart short-term politics from the New Generation; but Labour cannot live on curry alone. Its debts are colossal (exceeding £12 million at the last count) and it is heavily reliant on the Unions, a problem for any Labour leader made more acute when that leader owes his position to Union votes, as Miliband does.

In the medium term, Miliband’s early finesse will cost him: it sends a bald message to potential donors and the interests they stand for. Doughty and Cohen, for instance, are not amused. A well placed sourced tells the Times: ‘It’s not a great way of treating people, is it?’

More worrying for those who recall the basis of New Labour’s sustained dominance, Lord Sainsbury and Lakshmi Mittall (admittedly both supporters of his brother) have grave reservations about Miliband’s stance on business and taxation. Can their support continue to be relied upon? It’s early days, but Generation Ed could be seen to favour the Donkey Jacket this winter season.