David Miliband may or may not have been right to have abstained from toppling Gordon Brown when he had the chance. I sympathise with his view that the subsequent civil war would not have been worth it; as he tells Alex Smith at LabourList today: “I don’t think anyone would have benefited from a second Kamikaze pilot.”
Now that Brown has gone, however, Miliband is not holding back. Here are some key lines from this evening’s Keir Hardie speech in Wales:
I agreed completely with Gordon Brown, when he became Prime Minister in 2007, that we needed renewal. I supported and voted for him. I agreed that we needed greater moral seriousness and less indifference to the excesses of a celebrity drenched culture. I agreed with him when he said that we needed greater coherence as a government, particularly in relation to child poverty and equality. I agreed with him on the importance of party reform and a meaningful internationalism that would be part of a unified government strategy. I agreed that we needed a civic morality to champion civility when confronting a widespread indifference to others.
But, it didn’t happen.
It was not just more of the same. Far from correcting them failings – tactics, spin, high-handedness – intensified; and we lost many of our strengths – optimism born of clear strategy, bold plans for change and reform, a compelling articulation of aspiration and hope. We did not succeed in renewing ourselves in office; and the roots of that failure were deep not recent, about procedure and openness, or lack of it, as much as policy. That is a political fact and now words are cheap but the stakes are high.