Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Friday, 4 June 2010

How David Miliband could be magnanimous and statesmanlike

It is starting to look like neither of the two left-wing candidates for the Labour leadership (Diane Abbott and John McDonnell) are going to get the 33 nominations needed to secure a place in the ballot. McDonnell currently has 7 declared for him and Abbott has just 5.

There has been much debate about whether the rules should be changed in order to allow a left wing challenger who may struggle to get through this initial electoral college hurdle for the party at large to be able to judge them and what they have to offer. I think it is fair to say that if someone like Abbott managed to get on the ballot and hence be involved in the debates and contest proper then the dynamics of it could be quite different. It is still extremely unlikely that she could win but her candid style unbound by recent office herself (unlike all the front-runners) could help electrify the contest. However it is looking pretty unlikely that the rules will be changed now.

There is an opportunity here though for David Miliband to do something extremely magnanimous. He already has 62 declared nominations. He could suggest to some of his supporters (28 of them) to support Diane Abbott's candidature. That would give her 33 nominations and still leave himself with 34 (with likely more to come). That would ensure she made it onto the ballot and hence would be involved in the next stage of the contest.

If Labour end up with a bunch of white middle-aged men all of whom are pretty close politically and all of whom were until recently cabinet ministers as the only contenders in the leadership contest then I suspect many in the party and wider public will be disappointed. It will actually help the party if the arguments are had out in the open now rather than have that wing of the party excluded.

David Miliband has much to gain from this approach too. It would make him look brave and like a risk-taker, attributes he has often been accused of lacking in the past. He would also look statesmanlike willing to give an opponent a fair crack of the whip confident that he can win the argument.

I suspect the low politics of the situation militate against this happening. But if Miliband has the courage to do this it may pay dividends in a contest that has largely failed to inspire so far.

2 comments:

Philip said...

Hope he does do that, but sadly I don't think he has the stones for it. Balls and the Mili Vanillis are much of a muchness and a very bland bunch to choose from.

Antisthenes said...

The memory of Foot is probably too fresh in the mind so a left winger is not going to leave the starting blocks. Apart from which the inner circle have decided the contest in as much they cannot name the person precisely but they can name the the policies that they want followed.