Wednesday, 29 September 2010

David Milliband's procrastination was his downfall - not his brother

So, David Milliband has retreated to the backbenchers and the media are pouring over the 'fratricide' committed by Ed Milliband.

Enough has been written about that to last several months but what I don't understand is why nobody has discussed the fact that David Milliband's chance of power didn't just vanish when the Unions backed his brother; it traces back to 2009 and the resignation of James Purnell

David Milliband and James Purnell were long regarded as the bright young stars of the Labour party and as Gordon Brown's popularity first hit rock bottom, they were regarded by many as rivals for top position

Yet it is clear that the two men wanted to avoid the fate of their predecessors and work together, with David Milliband taking on the roll as party leader and James Purnell presumably promoted to a senior Cabinet or Shadow Cabinet role.

Yet when Purnell resigned to force the deeply unpopular Prime Minister from office, Milliband had his Hamlet moment. Instead of pulling the trigger, he dithered. After a weekend of procrastination, David Milliband chose not to follow his friend and instead offer lukewarm support to the besieged Prime Minister; a trick he repeated in January this year:

Perhaps this failure to act has haunted Milliband, who had reportedly discussed bringing Purnell back into the fold should he had become leader

Yet it's all too late now for the elder Milliband brother. No matter what the commentators say, his brother did win legitimately and David Milliband has probably forever lost his chance at power - unless something extraordinary happens.

So David Milliband must regret his failure to follow James Purnell out and force the leadership contest that would have guaranteed him leadership and potentially the title of Prime Minister - an aspiration now held by his younger brother.

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