By Peter Hoskin
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interrupt the football to bring you a breaking news story: according to a
report in the Mirror this evening, David Miliband is standing down as an MP. The
official announcement will come tomorrow, apparently, at which point Mr Miliband
will depart for a job with a charity in New York. The paper gives the charity
name of International Rescue – although, sadly, I think it may actually be the International Rescue Committee.
balance, this is probably a good thing for Ed Miliband’s reign. Although the
resentment between supporters of Ed and supporters of David has simmered down
since that fractious leadership contest in 2010, there was still something
there. With the elder Milibrother gone, it leaves disgruntled backbenchers with
very few realistic suitors for their affections – certainly from the New Labour
generation of the party. And means that the younger Miliband can go into the
next election without a persistent reminder of the-fratricide-that-went-down-in-2010
lurking in the background.
David Miliband’s departure does also leave Labour a weaker party. As I’ve pointed
out before, he is one of the few prominent Labour figures with actual, fully-formed ideas – and, what’s more, some of them are quite sensible. He has encouraged
his party to adopt a more mature attitude towards deficit reduction, as well as
preached the creed of
the Big Society. He was also behind the Movement for Change, a network
of “community organisers” ready to press Labour’s cause at the next election.
now? A byelection, of course. Although I wouldn’t hold out much hope for a Tory
victory in South Shields, where David Miliband and Labour secured a 11,109
majority at the last election.