Coffee House

David Miliband is out of exile: but what happens next?

8 January 2013

6:07 PM

8 January 2013

6:07 PM

Reports of his return to frontline politics certainly seem to have woken up David Miliband. He has given a very energetic speech in the Commons this afternoon in the Welfare Uprating Bill: so energetic, in fact, that he managed to steal poor Sarah Teather’s rebellious thunder, speaking directly after the former Lib Dem minister. Shortly afterwards, he was spotted at the top of the Portcullis House escalators shaking the hand of admiring Labour MPs who passed by.

As Dan Hodges points out on his blog, the Blairite MP was perfectly happy to attack the Welfare Uprating Bill from the Left, calling it ‘rancid’, and arguing that it undermined the Tories’ confidence in their welfare reforms so far. You can listen to the full speech here:


That he’s happy to toe the party line rather than continuing to write oblique pieces critiquing party policy suggests that Miliband is preparing to leave exile. His interventions in debates continue to be sufficiently rare for his speech itself to be significant, regardless of the content. The narrative has certainly moved on from the feuding Miliband brothers. Ed finally established himself as leader with his autumn conference speech in October, but even before that, the media had stopped looking for signs that David was trying to undermine his brother. He left before Ed’s speech this year, saying he didn’t want to be a distraction. A year previously, that would have been a sensible move, but it looked a little precious this time around because the circus had finally moved on. There is obviously a danger that his return will reignite that.

The problem now is that Miliband is unlikely to want to re-enter frontline politics at even an intermediate level in the Shadow Cabinet. And, in spite of some of the briefing against him, one stumbling response to the Autumn Statement does not an Ed Balls break. Meanwhile, those close to Ed were infuriated with yesterday’s Times story, feeling it to be classic de haut en bas David saying ‘I’m ready to come back, now find me a job’. He’s not actually in the position to dictate his re-entry to the frontline.

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Show comments
  • Colin

    “David Miliband would be a formidable shadow Chancellor ”

    In what way? What are his qualifications? What evidence do you have for making this statement?

  • Magnolia

    Much as I hate to say it (because I am a true Conservative), the one job that is more important than that of leader in an economic crisis is that of Chancellor or shadow Chancellor.
    David Miliband would be a formidable shadow Chancellor and perhaps he would not tread on brother Ed’s toes so much there?
    The good ol’ Dave boys would become nauseous with fear at the prospect of that.
    I can just visualise the quivering blobs of jelly that would emerge to try and face down such a man of conviction and passion.

  • anyfool

    The Milibands are proof positive that the majority of Northerners are dullards who are easily led.
    It is the simpletons in South Shields that enthusiastically vote for anyone that Labour tells them too who should hang their heads in shame, decades of Labour and the area is still mired 50 years behind the rest of the country.
    I am afraid parts of Yorkshire are the same, weak, arm and head come to mind.
    That they allow these two London nancy boys house room is a sorry reflection on their self confidence, how sad.

    • David Lindsay

      Quite unlike Witney, obviously.

      And would that the North still did have the full employment and the manufacturing base of the 1960s. Would that we were still 50 years “behind” the economic basket case created by That Woman in the South East. Instead, we are just there to bail it out with monotonous regularity. As if they hadn’t already shafted us enough.

      • anyfool

        That would be the full employment like in the mines where the actual men digging coal would be outnumbered 20 to 1 by other “workers” or shipbuilding where unions took turns to strike, forget Thatcher, the Labour government previous were so enamoured of these hardworking men they shut more pits and shipyards than the supposed Iron Lady

        • David Lindsay

          Who mentioned the pits? Sounds like a guilty conscience to me.

        • Tom Tom

          Mines in Nottingham, Kent is hardly “North” but Yorkshire the centre of the printing industry does have mines and food processors, engineering, aircraft building, textiles, weapons systems, electronics

    • Tom Tom

      Witney had Douglas Hurd who let Salman Rushdie be tthreatened in Bradford and allowed Keith Vaz to lead a march calling for his death in Leicester; then came Shaun Woodward who was so Conservative Central Office that he joined Labour only to be replaced by Central Office stooge David Cameron who joined the LibDems……..the only blankets Witney seems renowned for is wet ones

    • Jules Wright

      I do believe a mob in Hartlepool hanged a stray stowaway ape during the Napoleonic Wars, mistaking it for … a Frenchman. Hence Hartlepoolers being referred to locally as ‘monkey-hangers.’ Obviously they had a point; however the level of entrenched, generational political tribalism across large swathes of Britain is indicative of how the cynical Left uses poor education as a weapon to perpetuate belief its own fatuous agenda.

    • Chris lancashire

      Broadly right, but in defence of us Northerners you would get the same effect when you parachute some chinless, huntin’, shootin’, fishin’ wonder into a southern Conservative seat. Duck Houses – need I say more?

  • alexsandr

    Have a banana.

  • David Ossitt

    Where is his ‘Mallen Streak’, has he found a cure for Poliosis?

    • Noa

      David, I thought the new term was a ‘Millet’…

  • David Ossitt

    “David Miliband is out of exile: but what happens next?”

    What happens next you ask, did you not see it? He stood up in the House of Commons when he was called to do so and read from a sheaf of papers like a novice at a school debating society.

    He was almost as pathetic as the young female LibDem ex-minister who also had to read from notes, even though her words were word for word what she has been feeding to the press for days.

  • David Lindsay

    His brother’s just-delivered attack on Blairism, however insincere, is the ultimate triumph of Ed Miliband.

  • Adrian Drummond

    It’s a pity David Miliband didn’t have this foresight [ref. speech] when he was in government. He remains culpable for getting this country into the current state it’s in.

  • TomTom

    I have great difficulty taking David Miliband seriously but then again Kindergarten Politics seems to be a diversion from the realities of the situation

  • Andy

    David Miliband is just another champagne Socialist. Done nothing, is nothing, nor ever will be anything.

    • Maidmarrion

      I think he has done something, correct me if I’m wrong but was he not implicated in state torture abroad?
      Has he questions to answer?

  • Archimedes

    It obviously wouldn’t make sense for David to stay on the backbenches if Ed actually won in 2015.

    Of course, if he wanted to be leader of the Labour party at some point in the future, then I wonder who his opposition would be? Oh, maybe Ed Balls. I wonder if Ed Miliband is having any trouble controlling his party? Oh, there is one person causing problems…Ed Balls?

    When it comes to shared problem solving, family is always best. Balls: neutralised.

    • Noa

      Balls; crushed like the cement between two bricks by this brotherly reunion.

    • David Lindsay

      “I wonder if Ed Miliband is having any trouble controlling his party?”

      He isn’t. On the contrary, even his brother now at least has to pretend to be onside.

      • MirthaTidville

        Really?? don`t think David might just be planning his revenge, in some way.After all its a dish best eaten cold

  • salieri

    “Ed finally established himself as leader”. Oh please. NuLabour is leaderless, rudderless, aimless, mindless and spineless. Replace a fifth-former with a slightly more articulate sixth-former and you’re still only polishing a turd. Re-ignition? Bring it on.

    • David Lindsay

      That’s one way of describing 43 per cent in the polls, I suppose.

      • salieri

        It is, yes. Don’t forget H.L. Mencken’s words of wisdom: “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the [British] public”.

      • Hexhamgeezer

        43% of a declining market against a bunch of saps playing by your rules cheered on by your state broadcaster – Whoo-Hoo!

      • Nkaplan

        His support is however, entirely soft and based on frustration with the government rather than any positive endorsement of his own (lack of) policies. Much of that support will evaporate during an election campaign.
        That being said, sadly he will still be our next PM, governing in coalition with the few remaining Lib Dems. It will be fun to watch as both our economy and our constitution are destroyed.

    • George_Arseborne

      One Nation Labour. How out of touch are you?

      • salieri

        Is it contagious, then? I do love irony.


        National Socialism!

      • Roland Butter

        “One Nation Labour” wouldn’t need infantile slogans if it had anything to say, to anyone, about anything. Your comment proves Salieri’s point. I’d add witless, soulless and humourless to his list.

    • Dimoto

      Where next ?

      Rumours that Mili jnr has refused to guarantee Balls that he will be Chancellor (part of the deal with his bro ?) Mili major as shadow Chancellor ?

      No wonder the chief acolyte of “the charismatic one”, has vanished from here.

      Next episode: the Ballsinator strikes back !!

      • salieri

        We can but hope, my friend. Sooner or later the self-promoting acolyte is sure to slough off his skin and reappear in some new reptilian guise. And G_A, if he is not Balls, is still spouting Balls.

  • Noa

    Sunderland’s gain will be Parliament’s loss.

    • Koakona

      What does Sunderland have to do with the member from South Shields?