David miliband

Decentralisation key to Afghan pullout, says David Miliband

It is fashionable to ridicule David Miliband’s search for a post-political career. But in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph the former Foreign Secretary showed that – for all his mistakes in office – his intellect, and judgement on a number of key issues, including how to bring the Afghanistan War to an end, was, and remains, razor-sharp: “Afghanistan’s battles are not just between the Afghan and foreign forces and the Taliban insurgency, but between (and within) Afghanistan’s often warring tribes. When Nato trains the Afghan National Army, it’s good – but not if you are a Pashtun who sees the predominantly Tajik army as the enemy.” The South Shields MP goes on

Will Balls and Cooper capitalise from Johnson’s mistakes?

You’ve probably heard about Alan Johnson’s latest slip-up yesterday. But it’s still worth highlighting the response made by a Labour spokesman – as Dizzy has – because it’s simply extraordinary. Here it is: “We have a Shadow Chancellor who lives in the real world. He knows the difference between a progresive and regressive tax. He knows what it takes to get on in the real world. That is more important than taking part in a Westminster quiz game.” Extraordinary that Labour should already have to make excuses on behalf of Johnson. But even more extraordinary that they should be made in this manner. The shadow chancellor errs, in quick succession,

Politics: From Red Ed to Steady Eddie

Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband are locked in a political duel, and only one of them can survive. Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband are locked in a political duel, and only one of them can survive. In the new politics, what helps Clegg hurts Miliband and vice versa. This unusual dynamic makes next week’s by-election in Oldham East and Saddleworth especially important: it is, in effect, the first electoral clash between the two men. The result will determine which leader spends the first part of the year fending off questions about their future. It is coalition politics that has created this clash between Miliband and Clegg. During the Labour leadership

Miliband’s first hundred days in five points

Ok, so Ed Miliband’s one hundred day anniversary actually falls on Tuesday – but what’s a couple of days between bloggers? Besides, even with two days to go, it’s safe to say that his will be a peculiar century. By some scientific measures, Labour are doing alright; sucking up Lib Dem voters to push ahead of the Tories in opinion polls. But that belies what has been an unconvincing start from their new leader. Here’s my quick five-point guide to his bitter honeymoon: 1) What’s the economy, stupid? One of Miliband’s boldest moves to date was his appointment of Alan Johnson as shadow chancellor. Indeed, at the time, I suggested that it could be

David Miliband’s options

Downing Street may  have dismissed as “complete nonsense” a newspaper report that the coalition was considering inviting David Miliband to become British ambassador to Washington. But the former foreign secretary is one of a few younger British politicians with international standing and while it would be odd to appoint him to a government job – and stranger still for him to accept — the coalition should consider putting him forward for a number of international assignments. Potential jobs include the international community’s “high representative” in Bosnia; as a UN envoy to Yemen; or as the representative of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan. In future, these three posts need to be

Alan Johnson’s degree in making life difficult for Ed Miliband

There he goes again. Another Alan Johnson interview, another reiteration of his differences of opinion with his leader and another Tory press release claiming Ed Miliband’s writ doesn’t even run in his own shadow Cabinet. This time, Johnson has told Mary Riddell, “Well, I don’t think [a graduate tax] could [work]. Frankly, there’s a difference of view.” If this was not enough he continued to say, “I feel it’s going to be very difficult to make a graduate tax a workable proposition.” This must be so frustrating for Ed Miliband. First, it takes some of the heat off the Lib Dems who are all over the place this weekend on

A grim turning point for Ed Miliband

Yesterday’s PMQs already feels like a turning point. It wasn’t so much the nature of David Cameron’s victory – comprehensive though it was – but rather the way  Labour MPs have reacted to Ed Miliband’s defeat. Whatever doubts some of them held privately about their leader have suddenly spilled out, mercilessly, across the snow. In his Daily Mail sketch, Quentin Letts describes Miliband’s excrutiating exit from the chamber yesterday; Guido and the Telegraph are carrying remarks from disgruntled Labour figures. The volume of hostile radio chatter has risen considerably over the past twenty-four hours. Of course, there are several caveats to be slapped across all this – not least that

Solutions to the Mili-woe

Ed Miliband’s day today rather sums up his problems. His morning media round has all been seen through a negative prism. Nick Robinson mocks the new leader’s attempt to talk about the squeezed middle by calling it the squeezed muddle. While Ed Miliband’s declaration that he is a socialist, something he has said many times before, is not being treated as a refreshing dose of intellectual honesty but as evidence that he’s just too left-wing. A lot of Ed Miliabnd’s problems come from the fact that the media is in hunting mode. The media, as a rule, don’t like being surprised and Ed Miliband’s victory was not what it expected.

Fraser Nelson

Ed Miliband: “Yes, I am a socialist”

Ed Miliband was doing the interview rounds today, and CoffeeHouses may be interested in the below – an edited version of his exchange with Nicky Campbell on Five Live. NC: Is the problem union power?  MPs and the constituencies clearly voted for your brother, Alan Johnson’s favourite candidate.  He was a clear winner in those two parts of the party, and many people say union influence has to be limited.  Now this is a real test of your guts, isn’t it?  Is it the right thing to do? EM: I see it a different way, Nicky, to be honest.  I see that politics as a whole, in every party, is

Ed Miliband needs to make some noise

Today’s press will not have made happy reading for Ed Miliband and his supporters. Alan Johnson’s comments to The Times about the need to change the way Labour elects its leader has revived the debate about the legitimacy of Ed Miliband’s victory. Meanwhile in the New Statesman there’s a piece setting out the internal tensions within the party. Intriguingly, Lisa Tremble, who was David Miliband’s press chief during his leadership campaign, has put what could be considered a rather provocative quote on the record. She tells the magazine, ‘David’s rediscovered his excitement in politics…He’s looking forward to the new challenges. He’s not going anywhere.’ As I say in the new

Ed Miliband has a choice to make about the unions

On the surface, there are one or two baubles to delight a Labour supporter: their party leader has just had a second son, of course; they are pushing ahead of the Tories in a number of polls; and the coalition will surely come under sustained and heavy attack as the cuts make themselves felt. But strip back the gloss veneer, and Labour has some agonising problems to worry about. Chief among those problems – as I’ve written before – is their uncertain message on the economy, stretching into an uncertain policy prospectus overall. Just what do Labour stand for? Then there’s the simmering resentments between teams Ed and David, with

Return of the Gord

Oh look, the Old Crowd are moving in on the New Generation’s patch. Not only has David Miliband broken his post-defeat silence with an engaging little article in the Mail on Sunday, but we also have news that Gordon Brown is to make his first Commons speech since the general election. That’s right, after 174 paid days of, erm, indiscernible activity, Gordon will tomorrow insist that maintenance on Britain’s two new aircraft carriers should be carried out on a Scottish shipyard, rather than in France. Everyone else is surprised that he didn’t get that written into the contracts already. The return of the Gord throws up some questions for Ed

Boles: the coalition is David Miliband’s natural home

Nick Boles is fast becoming ubiquitous. He wrote an article for this morning’s Guardian, urging Labour’s wounded Blairites to join the coalition, where ‘there is room for everyone inspired by the desire to transform the way that government works and give people more control over their lives.’ He writes: ‘If President Obama can keep Republican Robert Gates as secretary of state for defence, does Britain have to forfeit the remarkable talent of David Miliband? Can the coalition afford to do without the passionate expertise of Andrew Adonis as it completes his quest to connect Britain’s great cities with high-speed rail? Must we try to build the “big society” without the

A hard-headed case of <em>déjà vu</em>

It was as if we’d been transported back a week – here was William Hague talking about ‘hard-headed foreign policy’, the very phrase that David Miliband had used before he swanned-off into the wilderness in a floral shirt. The details of the two speeches had much in common – an emphasis on free trade, a promise to garner new strategic and economic partnerships in South America and the Near East, balance in the Israeli and Palestinian dispute, global solutions to climate change and a promise to export human rights. Hague differed in not mentioning liberal interventionism and laying historical and partisan claim to free trade, arguing that the European Commission’s

Returning to the fray

I am travelling to Conservative Party conference in Birmingham today and thought this would be a good time to return to this blog. Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful comments in my absence. As ever, I will try to respond where I can. I should be up to full speed during the week. Meanwhile, I thought I would lay out the five themes I will be addressing over the coming weeks. So do feel free to  provide me with ideas. I’m sure you will. 1. Ed Miliband may not be the answer, but he is a pretty good question for Labour. The new Labour leader is neither their equivalent of William

Many Lib Dems want to be part of the New Generation

Politics tends to ruin an evening in the pub. On Wednesday, I came across a friend who had been a card-carrying Lib Dem prior to the coalition’s formation. He confessed that he’d been impressed by Ed Miliband’s speech and had joined the Labour party. Several other Lib Dem supporters attending agreed that Ed Miliband is a more attractive option than David Cameron and Nick Clegg. Everyone else in this small band (mostly unaffiliated voters with the odd furtive Tory) believed that Labour has probably elected the wrong Miliband, but were antagonistic to Labour in any case. Politics Home has published formal research suggesting that only Lib Dems clearly favour Ed

Farewell David Miliband

There we have it, David Miliband has announced that he is standing down from frontline politics. In his statement just now, he fluted all the anticipated notes. “The party needs a fresh start from its new leader,” he started, before adding that, “I genuinely fear perpetual, distracting and destructive attempts to find division where none exists, and splits where they don’t exist, all to the detriment of the party.” He said he will stay on as an MP, although he wants to do further work in the areas of education, the environment and foreign policy. It puts something of a fullstop under his career at the top of the Labour

Fraser Nelson

Pastures new for David Miliband?

David Miliband’s logic is difficult to fault. If he stayed, he would be treated as the torch bearer for those disgruntled Labour members who feel they were robbed. Without him, such people have no one to turn to. New Labour will now dissolve. ‘Progress’ – supposedly for the next generation of Blairites – held their meeting in a Manchester venue named the Comedy Store and that says it all. Game over: as Neil Kinnock put it last night “I’ve got my party back”.   No matter how loyal he would be, David Miliband could not but be seen as a focal point for the (many) Labour MPs who hate all

James Forsyth

David Miliband keeps the door ajar

The list for the shadow Cabinet elections shows that no David Miliband supporter who was going to stand for the shadow Cabinet has decided not to run following Ed Miliband’s victory. It’ll be intriguing to see what the party balance of the shadow Cabinet is following these elections. There is an expectation that Yvette Cooper will top the poll now that David Miliband is not standing. David Miliband’s decision not to stand was as expected. As one fellow hack pointed out to me the other day, if David had stayed on the public would never have worked out which Miliband was which and the press would have constantly looked for

Balls spills the beans

File David Miliband’s decision not to stand in the shadow Cabinet elections in the folder marked “Worst kept secrets in Westminster”. Here’s what Ed Balls has just told ITV: “I don’t think David Miliband is leaving because of reasons of politics or ideology or policy. I don’t think this is a political divide, I think this it’s a personal decision. He’s decided, and it seems he’s decided in the last few days if he has, that for personal reasons he doesn’t want to serve with his brother. I understand that because it must have been incredibly difficult to have lost to your brother in that way … If as a