Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

If David Miliband Has to Stay Silent, What Future Does He Have? Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

If David Miliband Has to Stay Silent, What Future Does He Have? Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Linford

IT was Clement Attlee who famously told a Labour colleague that a period of silence from him would now be welcome, thereby inadvertently earning himself an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations.

And it is certainly true that there are times in politics when it is best to keep your head down and your mouth shut.

By and large, the past 15 months have been such a period for David Miliband, the South Shields MP and former Foreign Secretary who, until October 2010, had been widely expected to become leader of his party. But it wasn't to be and, rather than risk the sort of comparisons that might have undermined his younger brother's leadership, the elder Miliband stood back from the political frontline and confined his public statements to the occasional supportive message.

Such was ostensibly the nature of his article in the New Statesman a couple of weeks back in which he outlined a seven-point plan for the future of the party and called for "restless thinking" in its bid to recapture power. He made a point of praising his brother Ed on no fewer than four occasions, highlighting his success in maintaining party unity, and having spoken out "powerfully" over issues such as welfare cutbacks.

But that, of course, did not stop the political commentariat once more portraying David's intervention as a covert leadership bid.

The resulting furore saw Mr Miliband forced into another round of interviews in which he appeared to rule out any return to the frontbench on the grounds that it would merely perpetuate the "soap opera".

One rather venomous interpretation of his actions came from the Telegraph columnist Matthew Norman in an article headlined: 'The sniping and self-pity of a truly feeble man.' He accused him of thrice raising the standard of internal revolt before "scuttling away to hide in the bushes".

"The pattern was set in the summer of 2008, when David wrote a barely coded article in the Guardian lacerating Gordon Brown. …

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