By Tim Montgomerie
They do not use the expression ‘Red Ed’ – that was Fraser Nelson yesterday – but Blair’s inner circle have come together to help the cause of David Miliband, who was Blair’s long-term policy chief – and injure Ed Miliband’s chances.
In an interview with this morning’s Times (£) Lord Mandelson warns against the candidacy of the younger Miliband brother:
“You can’t win elections without a coalition, and to suggest that we should be concentrating on our core current voters rather than looking to professional people and affluent people is by way of saying that we want to remain a minority party… “If you shut the door on new Labour you’re effectively slamming the door in the faces of millions of voters who voted for our party because we were new Labour.”
Mandelson is caricaturing Ed Miliband’s position but the former Climate Change Secretary has certainly called on Labour to tilt more towards its core supporters. An endorsement from Mandelson is, of course, a mixed blessing. He is hardly a peacemaker. In his Times interview he takes a provocative swipe at two Labour grandees he has long disliked: “I understand that people of a certain age like Neil Kinnock and Roy Hattersley want to hark back to a previous age, and they believe that [Ed] Miliband would reconstruct the party in that image.”
The former Deputy Prime Minister doesn’t endorse David Miliband but his intervention and Tony Blair’s launch of his autobiography – on Wednesday – are intended to boost the man who was at Blair’s side through much of the New Labour years. In private, reports the Daily Mail, Mr Blair has dismissed the Ed Miliband as a ‘disaster’ in the making.
And to complete the effort by Team Blair we had the wisdom of Alastair Campbell yesterday. “Ed would take Labour significantly leftwards,” blogs Campbell, “and leave even more of the centre ground open to the Tories.”
2pm: Mandelson talks to the BBC about his concerns about Ed Miliband.