I wrote earlier today that Labour’s leadership candidates should be working hard to secure the support of a small handful of figures, including Alistair Darling.
As one of the few former ministers to survive 13 years in power – with barely a scratch – the former chancellor’s backing carries weight. Tonight he nominates David Miliband; and tomorrow the pair will be out campaigning in London against the coalition’s cuts to university places and the Future Jobs Fund. In other words, it’s more than just a tacit endorsement.
Here is the relevant letter:
Labour Party offices
78 Buccleuch Street
I am writing to let you know I will be nominating David Miliband as the next Leader of the Labour Party, and to explain my reasons for doing so. This is a crucial moment for our party so I wanted to write to you myself to set out my thinking.
We are fortunate to have a field of very strong candidates, each with different qualities. However, I believe strongly that David Miliband is the right person to lead our party, first in Opposition and then back to power. He has the right Labour values, with a deep commitment to equality. He has the ability to inspire the party with a compelling vision for the future, returning to our roots as a social movement for change. He has the maturity and humility to bring together different talents irrespective of whether they supported him in the leadership contest. He will re-engage Labour with the public, particularly those with whom we have lost touch. David has always campaigned and argued positively for the Labour Party and that is the kind of leadership we need.
Above all, David is a leader. Having worked with both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown I know what leadership looks like. He has the judgement and gravitas to make tough decisions, which is an essential quality for the next leader of our party. We don’t know what will happen with the coalition government. The tensions in it are becoming clear. We need a leader who can forge an effective Opposition and then be a credible candidate for Prime Minister, maybe sooner than we think. I have seen David up close – I know he can lead. He was a great talent in the Cabinet, standing up for what he thought was right and driving through the tough decisions. He built strong relations with leaders around the world. My counterparts knew and respected him. I believe he has real understanding and good judgement on the economy.
You will make your own mind up. I have thought very hard before coming to this decision and I know that you will too. I just wanted to be open with you about my decision.