In the 2010 Labour leadership elections, David Miliband was the favourite candidate for many, including myself. In the electoral college voting system used, he won in two of the three sections, but lost in the affiliated union section, which was enough to narrowly hand the leadership to his brother Ed. I wrote blog posts about that at the time; one can be found here.
Once Ed Miliband was voted leader, David’s position became problematical and ultimately untenable. He chose to be a backbench MP, but that would never be enough to stop the ‘Miliband brothers soap opera’ cropping up in the media with predictable regularity. His supporters, like myself, hoped that he might return to the front benches one day, or even be a future leader, but somehow a long period of relative political isolation didn’t seem to suit his style. So I’m not surprised that he has decided to step down from politics, and I wish him well in his new position as President and Chief Executive of the International Rescue Committee based in New York.
As for the long-term effect on the Labour Party, I supported David because he believed, as did Tony Blair, that Labour can only return to power if it can appeal to all sectors of society. The two Eds are currently getting some political capital from the ‘bedroom tax’ and the tax cut for higher earners, but while these, particularly the second, may strike a chord with our traditional supporters, they are not election winners on their own. We will miss David’s wider vision for the Party. And but for a few votes from affiliated unions, it could have been so different!