‘We believe he has the intellect, talent and experience to take on the Tories - and eventually become PM.’
Their timing is odd, given that Fleet Street and Westminster are currently captivated by Tony Blair’s memoir. But it is also a neat coincidence that Blair’s journey ends on the day that his apparent heir’s begins. As Tim Montgomerie notes in today’s Times (£), the Tories fear David Miliband because he is the only Labour leadership candidate who asks: ‘What would Tony do?’
It goes deeper than that. Tony Blair was more tolerated than loved by the party he returned to power, and as Ed Howker surmises the feeling was mutual. In contrast, Miliband has built a plural coalition within the Labour party. He has James Purnell on the right and Jon Cruddas on the left and 11 shadow cabinet members behind him. It is not inconceivable that Miliband can extend his pluralism to subsume the huddled middle classes as Blair once did. It depends if Blair is correct when he writes:
‘Two years later he (Miliband) would be a different calibre of politician, with clear leadership qualities; back then, in 2007, he was hesitant and I felt fundamentally uncertain as to whether he wanted it.’
Miliband certainly wants it. As for the rest, I’m not so sure.