David Miliband

Jim Pickard

At the start of the week I explained that I was having trouble laying off my 7:1 bet on Ed Miliband because the bookies were obstinately keeping David as the clear favourite. That has now changed, and I’ll be placing a bet on the elder brother at 7/4 (Paddy Power) in order to secure a profit.

David is still expected to win the first round of voting today, with strong backing from MPs and activists if not union members. Yet Left Foot Forward, the left-wing political blog, is predicting that the younger brother would edge ahead by a single percentage point with the help of second preference votes. Read more

Jim Pickard

It was only yesterday that a senior tabloid political commentator was telling me how he couldn’t wait for Ed Miliband to win the Labour leadership election. “David would be a disappointment from our point of view,” he said.

His argument was as follows: Not only would Mili-E be easy to caricature as “Red Ed”, slave to the unions and champion of unreconstructed lefty-ism. It would also be a human story of the less experienced younger brother committing fratricide against Britain’s level-headed former foreign secretary. And lastly he would – the theory went – not necessarily have the majority support of his own MPs.

(Kevin Maguire at the Mirror has also made the latter point on his blog). Read more

Jim Pickard

Lord Mandelson made clear in his recent autobiography that the last Labour manifesto, written by Ed Miliband, was not to his liking. It seemed to have been road-tested by Guardian columnists, he observed.

With this in mind, no one in Westminster should have been truly surprised by Lord Mandelson’s implicit decision to endorse the older, more Blairite David Miliband. Less predictable was that he would come out in public to slam the younger Ed. As Sam Coates reveals in today’s Times(£), Mandelson warned that if Mili-E wanted to “create a pre-new-Labour future” then he would quickly discover it was an “electoral cul-de-sac“. For the party to turn its back on New Labour would make it a minority force for the future, he said. Read more

Jim Pickard

Over at Left Foot Forward they have an interview with Labour leadership contender Ed Balls where he has a not-to-subtle dig at the Brothers Mili-E/D.

1] He tells them to stop trying to split the British public into pointless demographic segments. 2] He suggests that he was battling Tory cuts while they were wandering around harvesting CLP backing. Read more

Jim Pickard

More good news for the David Miliband camp: he has won his second (of two) primaries – where party members are given the chance to nominate their favoured Labour leader.

He’s not overwhelmingly ahead, however. Brother Ed came second with 34 per cent to his 39 per cent. Read more

Jim Pickard

In my interview with David Miliband – running in Wednesday’s FT – we talked about the alternative vote in some length. The question everyone wants answered is whether Labour will end up on the No side or the Yes side of the referendum: or neither.

Miliband told me he would himself vote yes for AV. But would he actively campaign for it? Maybe, maybe not.

His final decision – if he becomes Labour leader – is crucial given that many Lib Dems are counting on the party joining the Yes campaign for it to have any chance of success.

Labour is in the curious position of being in favour of electoral reform but against the bill which will enable the referendum next summer. (Their criticism is that it has been tied up with cutting the number of MPs, a move which Labour decries as ‘jerrymandering’.) Read more

Jim Pickard

Ed Miliband’s campaign has announced that it has raised nearly £40,000 in small donations from supporters. This will help feed his narrative as being the grassroots/Obama-esque candidate; given that by early July he had only received £15,000 in large donations. Read more

Kiran Stacey

Ed Miliband

Ed Miliband

Unison has become the second big union to back the younger Miliband in the labour leadership contest, following the GMB’s decision to do so last week. Unions carry a third of the vote in the leadership contest, and with two of the biggest now supporting Ed, he is starting to be talked about as a very credible challenger to his brother David, who remains favourite.

Ed said: “To have received the backing of a union representing millions of frontline workers is a real boost for my campaign to lead our party.”

But the big one is still to declare. That is Unite, the combined mega-union which has among its members the BA cabin crew.

It has been assumed that since Charlie Whelan, a former Brown adviser and close friend of Ed Balls, is Unite’s political director, the union would back Balls. But as the Guardian’s Michael White points out, Unite is not particularly, erm, united – and at least one of its general secretaries, Derek Simpson, supports Ed Miliband. If Unite do swing behind Mili-E, his campaign will have all the momentum. Read more

Jim Pickard

This is a little unfair, because tonight’s Keir Hardie speech is meant to be intellectual and the audience will expect nothing less. This is the kind of rhetoric that plays well within the party heartland. Still, some of Mili-D’s comments seem more than a little confusing: is it just me?

I’ve put my own translations in bold – they may well be wrong. (Here is the entire text of the speech).

In our concern with meeting people’s needs we seemed to sever welfare from desert and this led people to think that their taxes were being wasted, that they were being used: Some people got benefits who didn’t deserve them

Our lack of distinction between the proceeds of financial capital, which was often concerned with its short term multiplication not its long term investment, and manufacturing capital, which was embedded in the real economy, led to a real lack in private sector growth throughout the country. We concentrated too much on City of London casino banking and not enough on manufacturing. Read more

Jim Pickard

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: Read more

Jim Pickard

As Britain’s largest union Unite should have considerable influence over the leadership contest; unions make up a third of the total voting. Although unions don’t have single bloc votes they can tell members who they favour.

 Read more

Jim Pickard

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:

Andrew Burns
Labour Party offices
78 Buccleuch Street
Edinburgh

Dear Andrew,

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. Read more