The Spectator

What Miliband means

What Miliband means
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The Miliband appointment shows that he’s one of the winners from the deputy leadership contest. If Benn had run an impressive campaign the job would have been his.

Miliband will be viewed as the cabinet’s senior Blairite but on the Middle East he has very different views than his patron. As The Guardian reports this morning, “he privately regards the intervention in Iraq as a great error.”

Crucially, during the Lebanon crisis he was a critic in cabinet of Blair’s refusal to call for a ceasefire. Indeed, as Jack Straw, has argued it was Blair’s almost total isolation on the Lebanon that accelerated his departure.  When the New Statesman asked Miliband if he had dissented from the policy, he didn’t deny it but confirmed it: “I felt very worried because, put it this way, I don't think that Israel is safer and stronger now than it was two months ago. I don't think the prospects of a secure and just two -state settlement in the Middle East are closer than they were two months ago.”

On the biggest issue in the Foreign Secretary’s in-tray—Iran—it is hard to imagine that Miliband is a hawk. Brown has avoided a direct confrontation with Washington by not sending Straw back to the Foreign Office, but it is now clear that British foreign policy in the Middle East under Brown will be less closely tied to the American line and far more cautious than during Blair's days.