Thursday, September 30, 2010

David Miliband bows out, defeated and demoralised.

I have already expressed my sympathy for David Miliband and my hopes that he was going to stick around to help his younger brother.

But, that was all before this, the moment when David Miliband found it impossible to hide his anger at his brother's statement regarding the Iraq war.

So, it comes as no surprise that he has decided that he is not going to serve in his brothers cabinet.

In a departure marked by magnanimity and self-restraint, David Miliband said that in some ways the easy decision would have been to remain in the shadow cabinet, but that his instinct as soon as he lost the leadership race on Saturday was that he would have to go.

He will remain as a backbencher, and write, as well as taking time to recharge his intellectual batteries and spend more time with his two young children. Heartbroken supporters continued to grit their teeth in the interests of party unity, but one said: "David is giving Ed some space to carry on torching the house we built."

The papers seem determined to see this as an act of "magnanimity and self-restraint", but I find the whole thing petulant and self indulgent.

The words of his supporters, that he is "giving Ed some space to carry on torching the house we built", is much nearer to what, I suspect, is actually going on here. Indeed, it is through the words of his supporters that one gets some sense of the anger and frustration which is behind his decision to stand down.
Jon Cruddas, a David Miliband supporter, said he was alarmed by triumphalists claiming that they had got their party back. "There is a danger that we are going to be dominated by a metropolitan liberal faction that is rather removed from the real world," he said.

Lord Prescott praised David Miliband and said: "He helped create a record that we can be proud of, and I respect the fact that during the leadership campaign he chose to defend it."
David represents New Labour and, like most of New Labour, he can't bring himself to say sorry for the Iraq war.

After all, Blair and the rest of them "sincerely believed" that Saddam had WMD, so who can fault them for their "sincere beliefs"?

Ed has broken with that mindset by stating that the Iraq war was wrong, and that statement brought from David the most public display of anger he has shown in his entire career.

The victory of Ed represents the death of New Labour and, as his brother was the next nominal head of that group, it probably is for the best that he heads for the backbenches.

I worry that New Labour will continue to haunt the party, refusing to accept that their moment in the spotlight is over. They delivered three election victories, but they alienated the party from it's base.

The bitterness they are now expressing is based on the fact that they can't understand how the party could be so ungrateful as to reject them.

Tony Blair had warned that the party would face certain defeat should it "move a millimetre from New Labour", which they probably believe, despite the fact that polls suggest a break from New Labour would make 47% of people more likely to consider voting Labour.

One would have hoped that New Labour could be magnanimous enough to hide their bitterness for the sake of rallying around the new leader, but David's departure for the backbenches shows that they are not taking their defeat well.

God knows what they have got in store for us in the months to come.

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