Archive for ‘David Miliband’

November 18, 2010

>Thought the Blair/Brown infighting was history? Think again.

>War?! Huh! What is it good for?

Well according to Labour stopping inadequate, union backed, leadership candidates like Ed Miliband becoming leader apparently. Oh wait…

The Labour party are at it again. Seemingly bored of their favourite game, ‘let’s find things that the Lib Dems and Conservative’s disagree on,’ they have decided to fight amongst themselves. Again.In light of the sham of the recent leadership contest, that saw Ed Miliband narrowly defeat his older brother David with union support, they have gone for internal party reform. Again.

Shadow Chancellor Alan Johnson has weighed in, saying he thinks the party should have a strict ‘one member one vote’ system, and has been supported by many other senior Blairite figures. They are basically discrediting the election of a new leader who they previously claimed would unify the party and lead it forward. Some things never change, and VN can’t help wondering if big brother Dave is pulling the strings against his brother from shadows of the backbenches. 

October 7, 2010

>Who did best this conference season?

>As a party it is fair to say the Liberal Democrat’s will have come away feeling happiest this conference season. The leadership (and press office,) was probably expecting a difficult time, with mini rebellions continually springing up from the sandals and beard brigade. What actually happened was the party came together, had a rigorous debate, made positive decisions, and rather enjoyed people caring for once.

Labour will feel better having elected a leader.Unfortunately, that new leader is Ed Miliband. Only time will tell if they got right man, but they will feel that they are on a firmer footing now, and that they have some sense of direction. The job will be completed as the results of the Shadow Cabinet  elections are announced at 9pm this evening and posts on Friday. Undoubtedly though, conference will have left Labour with a renewed sense of optimism and purpose.

The Conservatives had the most disappointing conference. Perhaps everyone had just had enough by the time they got to Birmingham, but the sense of triumph at returning to power didn’t seem quite as rife as it perhaps should have been. Then the controversy of child benefits was ignited, and the leadership found itself in a proper fight, albeit a fight they wanted to have. A well delivered leaders speech saved the final scene, but many were left cold at the curtain call. 

There were though some individual performances from both MPs and media types, that stood out during the season. Here then, in no particular order, is VNs top 5 conference winners and losers:

Conference winners

  • Ed Miliband – Can’t ever really have believed he would pull it off. While his speech may have been dull, it was relatively well received in the hall. Even though the Milibrother saga dominated the conference, it couldn’t really have gone much better for him.
  • William Hague – He is never going to go down badly on home turf, but the raucous (for a Conservative conference,) reception  he received when introducing his cabinet colleagues shows just why he is so vital to the coalition.
  • Nick Clegg – Accurately delivered his most difficult speech as Party Leader, and managed to keep most people on side. He probably arrived in Liverpool fearing wide spread rebellion and rumblings. He will have left knowing most are sticking with him.
  • Iain Duncan-Smith – He may be the quiet man, but his work was at the heart of the Conservatives conference agenda.
  • Danny Alexander – An increasingly impressive and important figure within his party and the government. His excellent economics speech will have won many more converts to the actions his department is being forced to take.

Conference losers

  • David Miliband – Thought he was attending a coronation, but ended up being beaten to the throne. His speech brought the conference hall to it’s feet, but that will provide little comfort as he sits on the Opposition back benches.
  • Vince Cable – Rightly criticised for going overboard with the bank bashing, and referring to bankers as ‘Spivs’. He has gone from being one of the Liberal Democrat’s most potent weapons in opposition, to an increasingly dull one trick pony in Government.
  • David Cameron – Despite a fairly impressive key-note speech, the Prime Minister found himself requiring a hard-hat more often than he might have expected.
  • Andrew Neil – Close to becoming unwatchable.
  • Lembit Opik – To get a speaking slot a Lib Dem conference, you were required to write at least one Lembit joke…

September 29, 2010

>David Miliband walks away from Labour front bench

>David Miliband has this evening walked away from front line politics, and the Labour front bench led by his brother. The former Foreign Secretary say he needs to “recharge his batteries”. He also said that he feared “perpetual, distracting and destructive attempts to find division where there is none and splits where they don’t exist”.

It seems quite bizarre that a leading party figure, who received more support from MPs/MEPS and members than the winner, now feels unable to be a lead figure in the Shadow Cabinet. All the other leadership candidates, including Diane Abbot, have put their names on the ballot to make up the 19 person team.

David may claim that he gets the ‘nice bonus’ of being able to spend more time with his family, surely the coalition is now the biggest winner of the Labour leadership contest.

September 29, 2010

>What is David Miliband thinking this morning?


Photo of UK government minister David Miliband...Image via Wikipedia

David Miliband will have woken up in London (not Manchester,) this morning and wondered where on Earth it all went wrong. Blair, Brown, David. That was the Labour line of succession. But no, like something out of a Disney movie the chipper younger brother has stepped up to steal the crown. Of course it could all have been different. He could have shown  the same courage his brother has by removing Brown and becoming Labour leader. He could possibly even be the Prime Minister now. He thought he was being honourable, be wakes up this morning defeated, with his career in the balance.

There are very strong rumours that come 5pm his name will not be on the ballot for the Shadow Cabinet, and that he will in fact step away from politics. There are undoubtedly many in the private sector and in Europe who would love to snap him up. Would this mean stepping down as an MP and forcing a by-election, just as the bruises are fading from the General Election campaign?

It must be said David has behaved impeccably in defeat. He couldn’t resist going full pelt in his speech to conference, showing them what they had missed, but what should he? Most people in that hall already knew what they had missed out on as leader. However, the Iraq/Harriet Harman moment managed to take some of the gloss of brother Ed’s speech. While most people would like the Labour party to apologise for the terrible mistake that was the Iraq war, David Miliband seems to have become the sole scapegoat still standing. As Stephan Tall points out today, Ed’s record on Iraq is hardly as pristine as he likes to claim either… We shouldn’t though be surprised by yet another deathbed conversion after his neat little about turn on tuition fees.

David will announce his intentions for the future later. It does though seems increasingly that the disappointment of falling at the final hurdle has proved to much, and that David Miliband is going to ride of into the political sunset.

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September 25, 2010

>Breaking news: Ed Miliband wins Labour leadership, the day New Labour died


Picture courtesy of the BBC

VN last night reported rumours that Ed Miliband would today win the Labour leadership, and those rumours have been proved correct. Ed has beaten his older brother to become the next Leader of the Labour party. He won an extremely close race that went down to a fourth round of voting. Ed received 50.65% of the final round vote, while David won 49.35%. A candidate must get over 50% to win. Tellingly, David got more of the MPs/MEPS and party members in those two sections of the electoral college, but strong union support took Ed over the line. 

There was an emotional moment as the result was announced, with the two brothers embracing each other closely. This continued as Ed then took to the stage, praising his brother warmly, before moving on to  the other candidates. He then declared “today, a new generation has taken charge of Labour”. The speech was clearly the beginning of a massive reunification project, the start of bringing together a party long divided. 

David Miliband was seen as the ‘New Labour’ candidate, and this ultimately cost him Ed was seen as a move away from the Blair/Brown era. However, with a return to a more leftist, union backed approach, and the new leaders continual reference to ‘the new generation’ those in the packed conference hall can say they were there the day New Labour died.

September 24, 2010

>Has Ed Miliband won the battle of the brothers in arms?

>Rumours are beginning to float around that Ed, not David, Miliband will be announced as the new Leader of the Labour party tomorrow afternoon. After Ken Livingstone’s victory in the battle to become the Labour candidate for London Mayor, perhaps this pressing of the political rewind button shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The older Miliband has been tainted with the Blair legacy, caught in the furore surrounding ‘the memoirs’, and frankly has not been forgiven for being a coward when he could have removed Brown.

VN will of course bring you the result and analysis when it is officially announced, but if the rumours are true it will be interesting to see how senior coalition members, particularly in the Lib Dems, deal with a genuinely left wing Labour leader. For now, a little tribute to the warring Milibrothers:

September 24, 2010

>Unions win again as Ken Livingstone become Labour’s London Mayoral candidate

>Ken Livingstone has beaten Oona King to be the Labour’ party’s candidate for London Mayor, winning a massive 69% of the vote of London Labour members. Mr Livingstone had previously held the post of London Mayor, but was defeated by Conservative Boris Johnson in the 2008 election.

The election of Livingstone might be encouraging for Ed Miliband, as it clearly demonstrates to an lurch to old Labour leftism, and a rejection of New Labour candidates. Once again the union backed beast has beaten off a dynamic, young, female contender. Even if there is some overlap with Ed, this result will surely cause a problem for whichever Miliband wins the leadership on Saturday, as they have both tried to show themselves as a forward thinking force for change.  

Ken Livingstone has issued the following statement: 

“We need a Mayor who will stand up for London.

“The choice between me and Boris Johnson could not be clearer. I will protect the fare payer. After Boris Johnson’s unnecessary fare increases that go hand in hand with cuts to investment we need fairer fares. I promise that fares under my administration will be lower than if Boris Johnson is re-elected.

“Today’s decision by London Labour members signals the start of a campaign to change London for the better and to protect Londoners from the cuts of this government that threaten to wreck lives and push us back into recession.

“I will unite Londoners around this message.

“The London election in 2012 will be the chance to send a message to David Cameron and George Osborne that we don’t want devastating cuts to our public services, fewer jobs, and declining living standards.

“If you want them out, first vote Boris out.”

Terribly original and inspiring i’m sure you will agree…. at least it will all be over on Saturday.

September 10, 2010

>David Miliband’s copy cat campaign highlights a deeper political problem

>The other day, the Tory Bear blog ran a story about its Editor’s experience having infiltrated David Miliband’s Movement for Change. This was not just a good read from a blogger not normally so compatible with VN, there is a more serious point for David Miliband than a Conservative infiltrator. After retiring his Tony Blair impression, Miliband D’s entire campaign seems to a very poorly concocted attempt to be Labour and Britain’s Barack Obama. ‘Movement for Change’ is no ‘Organising for America’. The point of OFA was that it engaged new people, all David Miliband has done is crammed the people who already support him into a room.

No, this falseness highlights a more serious point about politicians in general. How can the electorate relate to these people? The campaign teams may all have a crib sheet with the price of a pint of milk and a loaf of bread on it, but does anyone in the political sphere actually do anything, you know, normal? Can David Miliband tell you who is number one this week, or hum the the tune? Can his brother Ed name the three scorers for England against Switzerland the other night? Has Ed Balls read ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?’?

This is not to recommend that political leaders all sit down with a ‘zeitgeist tape’ of the type made famous by Malcolm Tucker and his hapless ministerial minions. Intelligence and dedication are traits to absolutely be admired, and demanded, in our political leaders.  It is about attitude. David Miliband fails this test comprehensively, even in comparison to his clone competitors for the Labour leadership. It is reassuring that Andy Burnham will be cheering on his beloved Everton against Manchester United this weekend, endearing that Diane Abbot can probably name the children’s’ crazes of the last few years, and actually possible to imagine having a row over a pint with Ed Balls. Even Ed Miliband seems to have some level approachability. But David? Look next to the phrase ‘political hack’ in a dictionary and you would just find his picture in place of a definition. 

This though is not a problem that just befalls the Labour party, or just David Miliband. There are Liberal Democrat MPs and councillors who enjoy nothing more than an evening pouring over the arguments for proportional representation, Conservative members up long into the night reminiscing over Margaret Thatcher’s legacy. This kind of politician disengages people from the democratic process more deeply than they can possibly realise, and it is a problem increasingly befalling street level political activists too. Which normal people would give up their weekend to deliver leaflets that nobody will read? Who writes amendments to the amendments for a motion to a party conference? Such people form the backbone of local political organisation, but it is near impossible for them to connect to the people who’s vote they are trying to win.

Perhaps tellingly the most successful British political leaders of recent times, Tony Blair, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, do not quite fit this mould. Stop screaming at your monitors for a minute and think about it. Sure all these men were brought up in middle class comfort, but it is their attitude, not environment that makes them different. All were Oxbridge educated, but none were involved in student politics. They didn’t spend their time trawling for internships on W4MP, delivering the aforementioned leaflets, or obsessively attending local party meetings on a Friday evening. They were open to a multiplicity of influences. From the close friends from Australia, India and Africa Blair describes in ‘A Journey’, to Clegg’s travels due to his language studies, and even Cameron’s brief stint working for Saatchi, these three men entered politics after forming their opinions away from politics. Although it has manifested itself in quite different ways, their unconventional political entry points mean all three men have a natural instinct for change and reform. All three men brought their parties to power.

One of the things that led to Gordon Brown’s downfall was was an inability to look out of the political bubble. He was so deeply rooted in the Labour party and politics that he couldn’t connect with people not in that sphere. It is time for politicians to remember that their place of work is called the House of Commons. This has an implication of normality, an ability to separate oneself from Westminster Village and be a common member of society. It is not about class or upbringing, it is about attitude and approach. 

If Cameron and Clegg’s ‘New Politics’ is to mean anything, perhaps it should really mean a new type of politician. 

July 26, 2010

>And then there were two


From the Evening Standard

Constituency Labour Party nominations for the next leader of the Labour party have closed, and have decreased the excitement of an already dull leadership ‘race’ even further by essentially making it a fight between the two Miliband brothers. 

158 CLPs backed David Miliband, and 148 backed his brother Ed. Former Health Secretary Andy Burnham came third with 40  CLP nominations, Diane Abbott won 20, and Ed Balls came in last with just 14 CLPs nominating him. Ed Miliband  has also received the nomination of the three biggest trade unions. That said, David has received the backing of ‘bigotgate’ star Gillian Duffy! 

An already dull contest has turned into a pathetic fake battle between two  brothers vying for the leadership of party that has been entirely rejected by the British electorate. There seem to be almost no dividing lines of note between the candidates, very few new ideas, and an obsession of talking to themselves not the people who will decide if they will become Prime Minister in 5 years time. Except for those in the Miliband household, does anyone care anymore who succeeds Gordon Brown? 

The Labour party has become an introspective irrelevance, and this has been perfectly illustrated by those that wish to lead it.

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