James Forsyth

This isn’t over until David Miliband offers clear support to Brown

This isn't over until David Miliband offers clear support to Brown
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David Miliband has learned a lot since last June. Then, he was bounced by Peter Mandelson into declaring his support for Brown within an hour or so of James Purnell’s resignation. Today, he waited hours to release a statement and then when he did it could hardly have been less supportive. Tonight when challenged by TV crews outside his home, he said with a straight face that his position is ‘entirely clear’ when it is anything but. Until he comes out unequivocally for Brown this ain’t over.

The other news of the night is Eric Joyce’s claim that two Cabinet ministers had told Hoon and Hewitt they would resign and back their call for a secret ballot of the PLP. Nick Robinson has also issued a set of names of Cabinet ministers—Harriet Harman, Douglas Alexander, Bob Ainsworth, David Miliband, and Jack Straw--who were meant to be keen to see Brown go.

Peter Mandelson’s interview on Newsnight was notable for him saying that he had not spoken to Brown since news of this plot broke. Jeremy Paxman also failed to press Mandelson on whether he had spoken to David Miliband, whose statement of support hardly qualifies for that label. Indeed, Newsnight seemed strangely unquestioning tonight; eager to declare Brown safe and unwilling to read between the lines of the statements issued by some Cabinet ministers.