David Miliband’s decision to give up on British politics and take up the post of chief executive of the International Rescue Committee is an intriguing one. The former Foreign Secretary and once future Prime Minister said he was hoping to put a definitive end to the soap opera surrounding his rivalry with his more successful and ruthless younger brother.
As his friend Philip Collins wrote in his Times column this week (£), the older Miliband has made a series of poor decisions. He chose not to stand against Gordon Brown in 2007, and he chose not to resign when James Purnell stood down from Gordon Brown’s Cabinet in June 2009. These two decisions suggested he did not have the killer instinct necessary for leadership, and so it proved to be when he failed to win the Labour leadership against his hungrier brother.
Quite why anyone thought removing himself from front-line politics would end speculation about a Blairite coup against Red Ed is a mystery. And why did no one in the party have the authority to tell David to put his formidable talents at the service of the party and join the shadow Cabinet? Until the end, David Milband remained one of Labour’s most impressive performers in parliament and he will be a serious loss.
I can’t agree with Steve Richards that David’s decision to go to New York is the best for everyone concerned. The Labour Party can’t afford to lose him and he is diminished by his retreat from the British political scene to which he has devoted his whole adult life. And why has no one reminded him of his duty to his constituents in South Shields, who elected him to do a job and need him more than ever now?
David Miliband has proved by his actions that he was never the right man to lead the Labour Party let alone the country. His decision to leave Britain during its most serious crisis since the war calls into question his credentials as a public servant. Did he only ever enter politics with a view to being Prime Minister? If so, we should all be relieved that he never succeeded.