Darling urges David Miliband to accept Shadow Cabinet role

Alistair Darling delivered a public plea last night to David Miliband not to turn his back on the party following his dramatic defeat to his younger brother in the Labour leadership election.

As Mr Miliband agonises over his political future, Mr Darling hinted at The Independent's fringe meeting that he wanted him to remain in the Labour top team as shadow Chancellor.

Mr Darling, a key backer of the older Miliband, refused to disclose his preferred candidate to take over from him in the role, but left his audience in no doubt who he had in mind.

"I hope David remains heavily engaged in the Labour Party in whatever way he thinks is appropriate and whatever way Ed thinks appropriate," he said. "He is still young and he still has a huge amount to give."

The shadow Chancellor, who is stepping down from the frontbench after more than 20 years, suggested he could return in 2012.

Many Labour MPs had assumed that Mr Darling was retiring from the front line for good.

"I'm going to be thinking for at least two years," he said. "A hell of lot can happen in those two years.

"I'm still relatively young. So I will decide what I want to do... In politics it's silly to say never."

In a relaxed and candid interview, he said he felt "great" about stepping out of the limelight for the moment, explaining: "It won't be long before I can say what I think."

Mr Darling said he did not quibble with Ed Miliband's victory, but acknowledged that Labour's complicated system for picking a leader contained "oddities" which the party could revisit.

"There may well be a case for asking ourselves whether this is the right thing," he said. "Ed has won this election. David is quite right to say today Ed has won and let's rally around him."

He conceded that the internecine strife between the Blairites and Brownites had been a "debilitating" drag on Labour's fortunes since 1994.

He warned: "This has got no place in the party – our opponents are the Tories. You can actually get on and serve in government without having to join one tribe or another."

Mr Darling, who famously complained that he had unleashed the "forces of hell" within the Government after he warned of the severity of the recession, said it would be "absolutely naïve" to believe unattributable briefings could be banned.

But he added: "Where it becomes damaging to a political party or a government it needs to be stamped out. It's corrosive. It can bring governments down."

Mr Darling urged the new leader against a move to the left, warning that Labour had to remain in the political centre-ground if it wanted to return to office – and offer "realistic and credible" proposals for stimulating the economy.

He warned the party not to fall into its historic trap of campaigning on higher taxes.

"If people think that by voting for you, it's just the start of more and more impositions on them, they get hacked off with you," he said.

"The case for taxation and the case for public spending has to be made, but I think at our peril we forget the lessons learnt 10 or 15 years ago."

Meanwhile, Charles Clarke, the arch Blairite unseated at the last election, said at a fringe meeting yesterday that Labour had been wrong to sacrifice its reputation for economic competence with frivolous spending before the last election.

"Gordon Brown had achieved a great thing in overthrowing the reputation of Labour in the past that it couldn't run the economy. Unfortunately, in my opinion, we threw that away in the last Government," he said. "For me, that remains the absolutely central question for Labour now."

Life and Style
A nearly completed RoboThespian robot inside the Engineered Arts workshop is tested in Penryn, England. The Cornish company, operating from an industrial unit near Falmouth, is the world's only maker of commercially available life sized humanoid robots
techSuper-intelligent robots could decide destroying the human race is the kindest thing to do
News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
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
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

Software Developer (Java /C# Programmer)- London

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global investment management fi...

Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CCNP, Cisco, London)

£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...

Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, Cisco, CISSP)

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...

Senior Network Engineer-(Design, Implementation, CCIE)

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition