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Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Miliband problem

Although current opinion polls might indicate that Labour are on course to win the 2015 General Election two and a half years is a long time in politics and today's Telegraph provides a graphic reminder that they have problems of their own that may well scupper their chances.

The paper illustrates the fault lines running through the main opposition party, with yet another story about the estranged Miliband brother and the forces within Labour determined to prevent him returning to support his less-talented brother.

They say that Ed Miliband has no plans to replace the current shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, or to hand his brother the job of masterminding Labour’s preparations for the next general election campaign:

Labour insiders last night put down the latest speculation to a long-running desire among David Miliband’s supporters to see him return to a top job and to a persistent mistrust of Mr Balls among the same group.

There are also reports the former foreign secretary’s mooted return was because he and his supporters were “spooked” by the fast rise of Chuka Umunna, the shadow business secretary who was only elected an MP in 2010, and that he feared his position as keeper of Labour’s Blairite flame was under threat.

Nothing there about the best interests of the party or of the country on either side:

Labour insiders insisted there were no plans for a David Miliband return. One MP said: “There is a group of people in the Parliamentary Labour Party who have never got over the fact David was not elected leader in 2010.

“They want him to return as a Messiah. The goal posts are constantly shifting - when we were in trouble in 2011 they wanted him back as leader, now we are doing much better and could easily form the next government they want him to be shadow chancellor.

“A lot of this - from the same people comes from their dislike and mistrust of Ed Balls. They are trying to build up a sense of the inevitability of his return. But the reality is nothing like that.

There is a feeling that David wasn’t with us when things were tough 18 months ago, so what gives him the right to swan back at a time of his choosing?” David Miliband has retained a following at all levels in Labour including James Purnell, the former work and pensions secretary, as well as prominent members of the shadow cabinet including Jim Murphy, the shadow defence secretary, and Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary. Other political allies include John Woodcock, who last week stepped down as shadow transport minister for health reasons, and Liz Kendall, the shadow care minister.

NIce to see Labour has not changed.
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