David miliband

More than a soap opera

David Miliband is considering a return to frontline British politics. At least that is what Andrew Grice has heard. He reports: ‘David Miliband is considering a surprise comeback to frontline politics in an attempt to end speculation about a continuing rift with his brother Ed. Friends of the former Foreign Secretary said yesterday that his joining the Shadow Cabinet was a “live issue” in his circle of political allies. “There is a debate going on. Some people are arguing that it would be better to be a team player than look as though he is sulking on the sidelines,” said one source.’ Better for whom, I wonder? The fear that

David Miliband should join the shadow Cabinet or quit British politics

David Miliband’s statement today declares that he ‘wants no part’ of the ‘soap opera’ of leadership drama. But as long as David Miliband remains outside the shadow Cabinet and, therefore by definition, not doing everything he can to support his brother it will be easy for people to say that he is just waiting for Ed to fail. If David Miliband does not wish to be a focus for discontent with his brother but cannot bring himself to join the shadow Cabinet, then he should resign his seat. Only by leaving the Commons will he persuade some of his supporters that he is not the man who can — and

A poll to compound Miliband’s woes

A YouGov poll for this morning’s Sunday Times provides proof of mounting disgruntlement with the Labour leader. And not just among the public as a whole, but also among Labour supporters. Asked whether Ed Miliband is doing well or badly as leader, just 30 per cent say “well” (including a tiny 3 per cent who say “very well”), while 53 per cent say “badly” (including 21 percent “very badly”). The bad news for Ed is that the “well” figure has barely moved since just after he was elected, when almost half said they didn’t know how well he was doing. Now an extra 31 per cent have formed an opinion

Labour’s blunt knives

According to the Observer, and a slew of other papers, “senior Labour figures are believed to have put their leader on a timer to ‘up his game’ in the next few months if he is to avoid a full-blown leadership crisis later this year.” Which reminded me of all this: 20 April, 2008 “The Prime Minister, who is battling a growing rebellion over his abolition of the 10p tax rate, has been given until the end of the summer to turn things round by backbenchers angry at a string of image and policy failures.” (here) 24 May, 2008 “It is that Mr Brown be given until the end of July

The Milidrama

No paper has been more critical of Ed Miliband than The Times. So it is in some ways not a surprise that the paper’s leader column today declares that he has until Labour conference to save his leadership. But this ultimatum stokes the sense of drama created by the combination of the Balls’ leaks and the publication of the speech that David Miliband would have given if he had won the leadership. Expect to hear David Cameron quoting from both these sets of documents at PMQs regularly over the next few weeks. The challenge now for Ed Miliband is to make lemonade out of these lemons. He needs to seize the attention

What David Miliband would have said if he had become Labour leader

Tonight’s Guardian scoop revealing that the speech that David Miliband would have given if he had been elected leader makes this one of the most difficult—and leaky—weeks for Labour since its election defeat. The line in the speech that will cause the most trouble for Ed Miliband is that David Miliband intended to create a commission on the deficit chaired by Alistair Darling and charged with creating a new set of fiscal rules, an admission that Labour got it wrong on the deficit which Ed Miliband has refused to give. This speech emerging just a day after Ed Ball’s private papers about the plot to force Tony Blair to stand

Why Miliband needs to be more specific — and quick

Ed Miliband owes Coffee House contributor Ed Howker a drink. In his speech today, the Labour leader borrows the central idea — and the title — of the stunningly insightful book that Ed wrote with Shiv Malik last year, Jilted Generation: How Britain Bankrupted its Youth. It is, basically speaking, the idea that the current generation of twenty-somethings is, in many respects, disadvantaged in comparison their baby-boomer forbears. From the burden of dealing with debt, both personal and national, to the fluctuations of the housing and labour markets, young people are up against it. And it may get worse. As Miliband puts it, “I am worried — and every parent

A special relationship | 22 May 2011

The visit of President Obama on Tuesday has not yet inspired rapid British soul searching about the ‘special relationship’, not by comparison to David Cameron’s trip to America last July at any rate. After an awkward beginning, the Obama administration has been at pains to stress that America’s alliance with Britain is inviolable even in a changing world. The administration’s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, said “there’s no closer ally for the US than the UK” last week. But like all close alliances, the two parties have their differences. The Sunday Telegraph reports on a strategic divergence in Libya, where Britain apparently wants greater American leadership and the US

Another disappointment for Ed Miliband

The final tally from Wales is just in — and it’s a minor disappointment, on a day of many disappointments, for Ed Miliband. There was a time when Labour looked set for a comfortable overall majority in the country. But it isn’t to be. They did gain four seats, yet that leaves them one short of an overall majority. Now, with thirty seats — exactly half of those in the Welsh Assembly — they will have to make do with a tighter, working majority. Far from terrible, but not the red groundswell that Miliband might have hoped for. The problem for Miliband is the overall picture: a precarious sort of

The ghost of David Miliband hovers over Ed’s election results

While the focus remains fixed on the dramas of Coalitionville, it’s worth remembering that today’s votes are meaningful for Ed Miliband too. The Labour leader may not be facing the prospect of resignations, nor even outcry, at their various outcomes. But this is, nonetheless, the first major electoral moment of his leadership. He might well be judged on it. In which case, much will depend on the extent to which Labour advances in England have already been priced into the electoral calculus. If the party’s footsoldiers regard sweeping gains — of perhaps around 1,000 seats — as some sort of default, then attention may turn instead to the turnaround in

Purnell stakes out a new welfare battleground

I said a few days ago that the spirit of James Purnell lingers over the welfare debate in Britain. Well, you can now scratch out “spirit”. The real-life, corporeal version of Purnell is giving a speech in Australia today — and, judging by its write-up in the Guardian, it is one that should have some resonance on this side of the planet. This is not just an address by a former Labour MP on where his party should go next — although it is partially that — but also the staking out of new ground on welfare policy. Whether you agree with it or not, it deserves some attention. So

Should the West negotiate with Gaddafi?

This week, former Foreign Secretary David Miliband gave a speech in the United States about Afghanistan, proposing the hand over of responsibility for building a political solution to the UN, headed by a Muslim mediator capable of negotiating with the Taliban as well as partners throughout the region. Last week, also saw former US negotiator Daniel Serwer make an interesting parallel to his time negotiating peace in Bosnia: ‘In my experience, there is nothing like staring a military commander in the face, asking him what his war objective is, and discussing alternative means to achieve it.  I asked the commander of the Bosnian Army that question in 1995, having been

David Miliband’s never-to-be-made best man speech

Good afternoon. I’d like to thank you all for coming to this godforsaken hell hole – sorry, I mean, Ed’s constituency. Believe it or not, I once expressed an interest in becoming the Labour MP for Doncaster North, but as soon as Ed heard about it he tossed his hat into the ring. Funny that. I’m going to start by reading a few telegrams from people who couldn’t be here today. [Reading]: “Dear Ed, Thanks for your kind invitation, but I’d rather stick pins in my eyes.” [Looking up]: That’s from my wife, Louise. [Reading]: “Dear Ed, I’m happy to pick up the tab. You can pay me back when

An alternative PMQs

With Libya in metaphorical meltdown and with Japan close to the real thing, it was remarkable how little foreign affairs impinged on PMQs today. Ed Miliband led on the NHS and facetiously asked if Cameron planned any amendments to his health bill following the LibDem spring conference. Cameron replied by accusing Labour of wasting £250m on phantom operations. Would he apologise for this scandalous blunder? Miliband, unsurprisingly, declined even to acknowledge the invitation. The session developed on these familiar, solipsistic lines. Keen to harry the PM on bureaucracy Miliband stumbled on a Cameron quote decrying ‘pointless topdown re-organisations’ of the NHS. He pulled it up by the roots, shook off

Abel fights back

One of the hardest tasks of any opposition is to gain the trust and credibility to run the economy. After what happened over the last few years, Labour have an enormous credibility gap. Ed Balls’ decision to oppose any measure to deal with the deficit has reduced Labour’s economic credibility still further. So too has the two Eds’ decision to make attacks based on mis-truths, like denying there was a structural deficit before the election; or attacking the coalition for cutting bank taxes, when it is actually putting them up; and like backing another bonus tax, despite opposing it at the election, and despite Alistair Darling’s careful explanation of why

Lloyd Evans

A tasty contest

Today’s PMQs was full of verve and bite. A welcome change after last week’s washout. It’s all getting a bit tasty between Ed and Dave. The Labour leader opened with Libya and after making ritual noises about wanting to support the government’s foreign policy he admitted he found it hard not to voice his ‘concern about incompetence’. Nice tactics there. Pose as a statesman and stick the blade in under the table. But Cameron wasn’t standing for it. ‘I don’t want to take a lecture from Labour about dealing with Libya and Gadaffi,’ he said furiously. And the cheers from the Tory benches redoubled when he called for Labour to

David Miliband hurtles back into orbit

Ah, there it is, in the final sentence of the fourth paragraph: a flattering reference to Ed Miliband. Phew. Good job David Miliband squeezed his brother’s name into his article on Labour’s future (£) for the Times today, otherwise it might have been July 2008 all over again. As it is, MiliD’s third newspaper article in as many days is enough to suggest that he’s keen to remain a prominent figure, if not yet an actual rival for his brother’s crown. In some respects, though, the recommendations made by MiliD are a challenge to his brother’s Way of Doing Things. His suggestion that the left be “an ally of wealth

Cameron: military action not out of the question in Libya

The government’s game of catch-up on Libya continues apace. David Cameron came to the Commons to update the House on the current situation. His main message was now that we have the vast majority of our citizens out, we can have a policy. Indeed, the government is today openly admitting that it was hamstrung last week by the continuing presence of a large number of British nationals in Tripoli. Cameron told the House that ‘we do not in any way rule out the use of military assets’; a dramatic shift from the tone of his entourage on last week’s trip. At the moment, the main military option on the table

A fraternal fix

“Now he and his leader know what it’s like to be people’s second choice,” trilled George Osborne during his recent encounter with Ed Balls over the dispatch box. But might Balls actually have been Miliband’s third choice for the shadow chancellorship? That’s the implication of a delicious little story in today’s Sun, which claims that Miliband first “tapped up” his brother, aka MiliD, when trying to replace Alan Johnson: “A Labour insider revealed: ‘Ed’s people were desperate not to give the job to Balls.’ However, Ed stopped short of offering his brother the job when David made it clear he wanted to stay on the backbenches.” If true, then it’s

Hague hasn’t lost his mojo

There has been no shortage of depressing news for the Tories lately. But, the other day, Benedict Brogan wrote a lengthy post about William Hague that must have made particularly unpleasant in-flight reading for the Foreign Secretary as he jetted around the South Pacific. It argued that: “In his absence – and even when he is back in Britain – Mr Hague is the subject of a whispering campaign among his colleagues, who say that the spark of ambition has died in his heart, and with it his effectiveness as the front man for the nation’s diplomatic effort. The Foreign Office has got its mojo back, just when Mr Hague