Peter Hoskin

What’s Ed Miliband playing at?

What's Ed Miliband playing at?
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There's that prism I mentioned: Ed Miliband writes an article for the Observer, which ostensibly backs Gordon Brown in the first paragraph, and it's written up as the first, tentative step on his own leadership campaign.  Thing is, that's probably also true.  The clue is in how far he steps off his ministerial beat*, to deliver an overall prospectus for the Labour Party:

"Let's start, as our manifesto will, with what the country needs in the coming five years. It can't be about business as usual. We need to rebuild our economy in a different way from the past, with more jobs in real engineering not just financial engineering. This economy of the future can only be created if we understand the role of government, complementing the private sector, in making it happen, nurturing industries from digital to low carbon. The last thing Britain needs is a government that thinks its only role is to get out of the way.

This is true of so many of the issues our country faces: climate change, reforming social care, getting more young people a good education, dealing with crime and antisocial behaviour. All require a party that believes in the power of collective action." Indeed, it's reminiscent of David Miliband's infamous Guardian article which kickstarted his attempt on the leadership a year-and-a-half ago – but which, crucially, didn't mention Brown at all.

So what's the deal?  It's generally assumed that Ed Miliband wouldn't challenge his brother in a leadership contest (and vice versa).  But it's also generally assumed that David Miliband still has his eyes on his party's top seat.  Has there been a fraternal power shift after this week's attempted coup?  Or were all the old assumptions wrong in the first place?  

I guess the answers will be clearer in a few months.  But, in the meantime, all the speculation hardly helps Brown's cause.

* UPDATE: Although, as Sunder Katwala points out below, Ed Miliband is in charge of writing Labour's manifesto – so he does have some latitude on this.  Rightly or wrongly, that prism still exists, though – making this article read as though Miliband the Younger is dipping his toe into the leadership waters.