David Blackburn

Union backing is an indication of how far David Miliband has shifted to the left

Union backing is an indication of how far David Miliband has shifted to the left
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Paul Waugh has news that David Miliband has received the backing of USDAW, the shop workers’ union. Block union voting is a thing of the past, but this endorsement is a surprise nonetheless. It’s lazy to categorize Miliband as a ‘Blairite’, but he is certainly on the right of the party – vigorously pro-European, pro-business and an avowed social democrat.

USDAW’s general secretary John Hannett is said to be impressed by Miliband’s defence of Labour’s record in office. To be honest, Diane Abbott is the only candidate who has lacerated the Blair/Brown governments, all the others are ‘proud of our record in government but recognise the need for change.’ The leadership contest has been striking in that the left wing has dominated it. David Miliband has been transformed by this shift to the left. In a Guardian article last week, he called for sustained spending, higher taxes, deeper re-distributive policies and a monolithic state. He may have always held such beliefs; in fact, it was telling that he has never been more coherent in speech or prose. But it’s not what you expect from David Miliband, and he re-iterates those points in an interview with the Mirror today. As the Mirror puts it: 'Miliband is Labour to the tips of his fingers'.