Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Any Other Business

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Any Other Business

Article excerpt

Byline: By Peter Young

Tyneside MP David Miliband is being lined up as a possible deputy to Gordon Brown if the Chancellor becomes Prime Minister, according to the latest tittle-tattle from Westminster.

The MP for South Shields, who is presently in the Cabinet as Communities Minister, is a close pal of Tony Blair and a rising star after just five years in Parliament.

If it happened, it would open the door for Mr Miliband, 41, to become the next Labour leader after Mr Brown steps down.

It's been assumed that Mr Miliband, a former head of the Downing Street policy unit, is far too close to Mr Blair to be considered for such a high-ranking job in a Brown government.

But he would bridge the divide with Blairites, who may be disaffected by a Brown premiership.

Meanwhile Mr Miliband's refusal to become involved in the row over underfunding by the Government of its scheme to introduce free bus travel for pensioners is making him increasingly unpopular among Labour transport chiefs in Tyne & Wear.

They blame the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, where Mr Miliband is second in command to John Prescott, for the mess, which threatens cuts affecting bus and Metro passengers.

Mr Miliband has refused to intervene because of the potential conflict of interest between his responsibilities as a Cabinet minister and his job as a local MP but that cuts no ice in Tyne & Wear where Labour councillors are furious, believing he should have been banging heads together.

PTA chairman Coun David Wood will be seeking out ministers at the Labour Party local government conference in Blackpool this weekend to make his feelings known.

Conservative Party chairman Francis Maude tucked into chicken tikka and king prawns washed down by pints of Indian lager when he visited Newcastle to rally troops for the coming local elections. …

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