Thursday 28th March
You know how it is when you get that sudden intake of breath at the scrolling news line. Out of habit I switch on to BBC News almost automatically, and whatever they are waffling on about I only half take it in, but I was jolted when I read the strapline that David Milliband was resigning as an MP. He had been throughout the Blair years a rising star, hardly anyone noticed his brother Ed, and for David the future looked promising indeed. Gordon Brown practically assumed the leadership of the party and bullied every member of the cabinet to endorse him. One wonders if David ever thought about standing up at that point and being counted. Well, he didn’t and though he maybe had to swallow some bitter bile he was a faithful minister under Brown too.
After the defeat he was the clear favourite and if any threat were perceived it probably came from Ed Balls not his brother, though that did cause a stir. In the end Ed won the leadership, and though David put on a brave face he must have been gutted. It was Blair what lost it for him. He had staunchly defended Blair’s invasion of Iraq, whereas Ed was prepared to stand up and say it had been a mistake.
There is no knowing now if David would have made a more successful leader than Ed. Most people agree that he is a better talker and is far more charismatic, but I think Ed is more in tune with the party at large. The big problem Ed has is that he is an unpopular leader of a popular party, whereas Cameron is a popular leader of a deeply unpopular party. It is by no means a foregone conclusion that Labour will win in two years time. In fact it is Ed’s to lose, and should that happen one wonders if David will return and quietly wait for a safe seat and who knows……..
In the meantime, good luck to him in his new slightly obscure role in New York, and good luck to Ed too. In a way it may now be a bit easier for both ambitious brothers.