Caught unawares, David Miliband finally makes true feelings known

David Miliband is expected to announce today he is to quit frontline politics after being angered by his brother Ed's condemnation of the Iraq war in his debut speech as Labour leader.

The former Foreign Secretary, who backed the 2003 invasion, sat stony-faced as Ed Miliband declared at the party's Manchester conference that Labour was "wrong to take Britain to war and we need to be honest about that".

David Miliband's anger boiled over when Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader, joined the applause for his brother's attack. "You voted for it, why are you clapping?" David asked her in a remark picked up by an ITV News microphone.

"I'm clapping because he is the leader. I'm supporting him," Ms Harman replied.

The incident may prove to be the final straw as David decides whether to remain in the Shadow Cabinet after his narrow and painful defeat by his younger brother on Saturday. Political allies yesterday maintained the pressure on him to stand in the election among Labour MPs. But his wife, Louise, is understood to be urging him to return to the backbenches.

Last night his close colleagues admitted that the arguments of those urging him to stand down had been strengthened by the clash with Ms Harman. They have warned him that the media would constantly be looking for splits between him and his brother if he remained on Labour's front bench. "It proves the point," one adviser said. "David has given his life to politics since his early 20s. He doesn't want to give it up, but this illustrates perfectly the problem with staying in the Shadow Cabinet. He's in an impossible position."

Labour MPs said Ed Miliband's decision to criticise the Iraq war had closed off one of David's options – remaining as shadow Foreign Secretary. Ed was not in Parliament at the time and disclosed his opposition to the war during the leadership election.

David must make up his mind by 5pm today, when nominations for the election close. He is likely to remain MP for South Shields and intends to be active in politics – and to support Labour under his brother's leadership.

Ed Miliband told the conference: "Iraq was an issue that divided our party and our country. Many sincerely believed that the world faced a very real threat. I criticise nobody faced with making the toughest of decisions and I honour our troops who fought and died there. But I do believe that we were wrong... Wrong because the war was not a last resort, because we did not build sufficient alliances and because we undermined the United Nations. America has drawn a line under Iraq and so must we."

The Iraq controversy overshadowed an impressive first conference speech by Labour's new leader and he appeared to have won over the doubters.

He portrayed himself as the leader of a new generation of optimists and painted David Cameron as a pessimist who is using the public deficit as a smokescreen for cuts, saying: "You were the optimist once, but now all you offer is a miserable, pessimistic view of what we can achieve. And you hide behind the deficit to justify it." In contrast with Mr Cameron's "big society", he outlined his vision of a "good society".

Although he criticised his former boss Gordon Brown on the economy as well as Tony Blair on Iraq, Mr Miliband sought to quash speculation that he would shift his party to the left and allow it to live in a "comfort zone". Promising strong leadership, he told his party: "It won't always be easy. You won't always like what I have to say. This country faces some tough choices. And so do we. And we need to change."

After trade unionists secured his victory over his brother, he tried to send a message to the unions that strikes over spending cuts could alienate the public: "That is why I have no truck, and you should have no truck, with overblown rhetoric about waves of irresponsible strikes. The public won't support them. And you shouldn't support them either."

His tough message upset some union bosses. "Rubbish,"shouted Len McCluskey, assistant general secretary of Unite.

He said he believed strongly in the need to reduce the deficit, saying his party needed to win back its fiscal credibility. "There will be cuts and there would have been if we had been in government. Some of them will be painful and would have been if we had been in government."

Promising not to oppose every cut the Government proposes, he warned his party: "There will be some things the Coalition does that we don't like as a party but we will have to support. And come the next election there will be some things it has done that I will want to reverse but won't be able to."

But he also gave himself room to take on the Coalition over the cuts. "What we should not to is make a bad situation worse by embarking on deficit reduction at a pace that endangers our economic recovery," he said." No plan for growth means no credible plan for deficit reduction." His strategy, he said, would be to shape the "centre ground"– not allow it to be dominated or defined by Labour's opponents.

New leader's policy vision

Spending cuts

"I am serious about reducing our deficit... I won't oppose every cut the Coalition proposes... But what we should not do is make a bad situation worse by embarking on deficit reduction at a pace that endangers our economic recovery."

This formulation is designed to help win back Labour's credibility on the economy while giving Mr Miliband some wriggle room to amend Alistair Darling's policy to halve the deficit over four years. Critics will accuse him of trying to have it both ways.

Low pay

"I believe not just in a minimum wage but the foundation of our economy in future must be a living wage."

A future Labour government could force employers to pay a "living wage" of about £7.60 an hour, rather than the minimum wage of £5.80 an hour. The move would be opposed by employers, but Mr Miliband will point out that their warnings about huge job losses before the minimum wage was introduced proved unfounded.

High pay

"The gap between rich and poor does matter. What does it say about the values of our society, what have we become, that a banker can earn in day what the care worker can earn in a year? Responsibility in this country shouldn't just be about what you can get away with."

Mr Miliband supports a High Pay Commission to investigate the gap between top and bottom pay levels in the private and public sector.

Welfare

"There are those for whom the benefits system has become a trap."

Mr Miliband will oppose "arbitrary" benefit cuts proposed by the Coalition. But he is sympathetic to "tough and tender" reforms drawn up by James Purnell, the former work and pensions secretary, which were not supported by Gordon Brown.

Crime

"When Ken Clarke [the Justice Secretary] says we need to look at short sentences in prison because of high re-offending rates, I'm not going to say he's soft on crime."

Mr Miliband's support for Mr Clarke's "prison isn't working" approach marks a break with New Labour's tough stance on crime.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
News
Bey can do it: Beyoncé re-enacts Rosie the Riveter's pose
newsRosie the Riveter started out as an American wartime poster girl and has become a feminist pin-up. With Beyoncé channeling her look, Gillian Orr tells her story
Life and Style
Donna and Paul Wheatley at their wedding
healthShould emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements