David Miliband has said all the right things with the launch of his leadership campaign and I certainly want to see him win what should be an interesting and open contest.
Launching his bid on his website yesterday, David Miliband said that we must be proud of what we have achieved but reminded the party “this is a new era with new challenges and new opportunities”. He said that Labour now out of government “must become a movement for change” . That’s the key thing that we’re all talking about.
“A good leader listens as well as leads. Tomorrow I will begin a conversation with members, MPs and trade unionists in the party, but also members of the general public, especially in seats we lost and those we must fight to hold on to.
“The decision of the Liberal Democrats to join a Conservative Government is a momentous one. It creates an enormous responsibility for the Labour Party, revitalised in the right way, to represent all shades of progressive opinion and present itself as an alternative government. That is the task that I look forward to.”
I understand what some people like Tom Watson MP are saying when he tweeted: “Less than 24 hours after Gordon resigns. Inevitable but still sad. Period of reflection”; and Harry Barnes in the HP comments yesterday saying: “Why can’t the Labour Party first encourage wide internal discussions on what is should seek to do…before it ever elects a new Leader?”.
I understand too people like Alex Smith at LabourList writing that Miliband made the announcement in the wrong place (St Stephen’s Gate at Parliament instead of his constituency) because he was in a rush to throw his hat in the ring.
But we all knew Miliband was going to stand and so for him to come out quickly and declare his intentions is open and honest and leaves people in no doubt. That is what we want a party leader to be. I’m not sure it is entirely fair to criticise someone for that. I think that should be applauded.
To those who want to wait, debate and reflect, as far as I can tell the debate has already started and it has led to a huge energy around the Labour Party. It strikes me that waiting/reflecting suggests someone has died. There’s been no death around here. Gordon Brown and the party are not lying in state. We have a great base to build on, a superb performance locally and denied the Conservative Party a majority forcing them into a marriage of convenience with the Lib Dems. That’s a great platform to begin a fightback.
We might be in opposition for a short while and it might be longer, but whatever the case more than 4,000 didn’t wait yesterday and joined the party. I don’t see why anyone else should wait either – but that doesn’t mean no debate. This is one big debate about renewal and change.
Maybe as some have suggested there should be a TV debate – I don’t know, but if that’s what the party and the candidates want then why not? Just as soon as other contenders step forward: whether that be Ed Miliband, Ed Balls, Andy Burnham or Jon Cruddas — who in a speech yesterday gave no hint as to whether he would stand as others see him as a perfect deputy leader balance to David Miliband.