David Miliband to stay off front bench to 'avoid creating soap opera'

 

David Miliband today said he would stay off the Labour front benches to avoid creating a “soap opera”.

The former leadership candidate told BBC Breakfast that suggestions he should return to the shadow cabinet were “flattering”, but he added: “I think I was right to say 'Look, I've lost the leadership election'.”

He said remaining on the back benches would allow his brother Ed, who defeated him in the 2010 poll, to lead.

“Ed needs the space to lead the Labour Party as he sees fit. I can help Labour at the grassroots.

“I am trying to make sure we are taking our message all over the country and not being in the shadow cabinet allows me to do that. I can minimise the amount of soap opera by not being in the shadow cabinet.”

When it was suggested that an essay he wrote in the New Statesman, laying out a seven-point plan for the party, had already re-started the “soap opera” that surrounded their relationship, he said: “I promise you the soap opera is not back and certainly not back for daily episodes with me in frontline politics.

“I think that the really important thing is that the country sees that the Labour Party is renewing itself, which it is under Ed's leadership, and that it is able to have real discussion about the future of the country.

He added: “I think he's doing it with purpose, with conviction, with some success actually in a number of areas.

“He's raising the health service issue today and I think that is the right thing to do.”

Asked if he would stand if there was a leadership contest, he said: “There is not going to be one, Ed has been elected to fight the next election and I think he is going to fight it with real courage and conviction.”

Discussing the subject of youth unemployment, Mr Miliband said young people in work should mentor those out of work.

Addressing the findings of an inquiry on the issue, he said: “I think there are three really big problems. First we have got to prepare young people for a different world of work and we have got to prepare them better.

“Secondly, if they do become unemployed we help them back into work faster and with more intensive help, and thirdly we have got to make sure there is proper demand for labour among young people, we would like wage subsidies brought in for young people, we would like to see apprenticeships not just expanded but organised on a national scale.

“We also think that young people can help each other. We are going to say today that any young person in work for over a year should mentor a young person who is out of work for over year because this problem is really chronic and this is something we can tackle.”

He rejected the claim that immigration has added to the problem of youth unemployment.

“We have looked at the allegation it was benefit rates that was causing unemployment, that it was the minimum wage, or that it was migration, and what we found was that some of the areas with the highest young unemployment had the lowest levels of migration from outside the UK.

“We didn't find the connection that says it's immigration that has caused unemployment. It just didn't stack up in the economic statistics that were done in an independent way.”

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Mr Miliband denied levelling criticism at his brother's leadership of the Labour Party but said he had never taken a vow of silence.

He insisted he wanted Ed to become prime minister at the next general election and that they both agreed about the need to "rethink" Labour's approach.

Mr Miliband said it was "quite wrong" to interpret the New Statesman article on the challenge facing Labour as an attack on his brother, who narrowly beat him to the Labour leadership in 2010.

"I agree with Ed that the right thing for the party is to rethink its approach," he said.

He acknowledged that he had not discussed the article with his brother in advance.

He maintained that he had no interest in "re-fighting" the leadership election but would speak out on issues he wanted to.

"I lost an election. I didn't take a decision not to think. I didn't take a Trappist vow that said that I'm never going to say anything again," he said.

"I lost an election, I've no interest in re-fighting a leadership election.

"The only election I care about is the general election under Ed's leadership which the Labour Party needs to win for the good of the country."

Mr Miliband said he wanted his brother to win the planned 2015 general election because "he's my brother, he's the leader of my party and because I think he can make a big difference to the country".

He added: "He's the best man to lead Labour into the next election."

He said he had stepped back from frontline politics to avoid a "daily soap opera", but stressed that he "didn't stop thinking".

"I think Ed has shown in 18 months a willingness to engage on the big and difficult arguments that the country desperately needs," he said.

"The important thing is that, when I think I've got something to say and I think it will help Labour and help the country and help the debate, I should be able to say it and I do say it."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine