by Stephen Tall on March 27, 2013
You did not
Though you got more votes
Than Brother Ed
The trade unions
And it will be
And so David Miliband exits the political stage, pursued by a barely concealed sense of thwarted ambition. The man who, but for four MPs’ votes, would now be Labour leader and PM-in-waiting is instead leaving the country for New York to run an international charity. (Another small victory for Theresa May’s crusade to drive down net migration.)
Four years ago you’d have got good odds on David Miliband and James Purnell being two of Labour’s leading lights; neither are now MPs. The pendulum of politics has swung decisively away from the Blairites.
With Labour’s own debt-ridden finances now increasingly dependent on funding from the trade unions (and in particular the public sector union Unite) Ed Miliband has very little room for manoeuvre. He knows he must persuade the public that Labour will put national interests before producer interests; yet he needs to keep the unions on side. Trapped, he’s become a Trappist on issues like public sector pay and reform.
As for David Miliband, well, part of me is sympathetic. He came so close, and lost to the only person whose victory would inevitably shut him out of top-table politics.
But before we get the violins out to serenade him across the pond, let’s remember here was a man who not only voted for the Iraq war but was also probably complicit in the state-sanctioned torture. Remember that, and I find my sympathy ebbs just a little.