Alex Massie

The Miliband Dilemma

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Brother Blackburn's suggestion that David Miliband risks, perhaps, being something of a Labour version of William Hague should he succeed Gordon Brown. And Danny Finkelstein's column arguing that Miliband should change his mind and put himself forward for the post of EU High Representative is, in many, many ways, compellingly persuasive.

But if Miliband were to go to Brussels he might find himself all alone. His enemies in the Labour Party are unlikely to look kindly on Miliband serving a term as High Representative before returning to Britain, findingĀ  safe seat, and strolling into Westminster to become the next-but-one leader of the Labour Party. Meanwhile, he might find that he has fewer friends and supporters than once he did as some may not forgive him for - in their eyes - deserting the party when it needed him most.

So Miliband finds himself in a tricky position in which Man and Moment are ill-matched. This rarely ends well. My suspicion is that some of Miliband's friends have pointed out that if he goes to Brussels then the next Labour leader is likely to be... Ed Balls.

If, and I think it may be, that's the case then one can see why, despite the persuasive arguments Danny Fink makes, Miliband might feel compelled to stay even if, rationally, it might not be in his own best interests to do so. He might be the right leader at the wrong time, but that could be less important that stopping Balls taking command of the party.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.