'I can best support Ed from the backbenches'
Wednesday 29 September 2010
David Miliband confirmed today he will not be seeking to serve in his brother's first frontbench team.
Here is a full text of his letter to Alan Donnelly, chair of his Constituency Labour Party in South Shields.
For nine years South Shields and the South Shields Labour Party have given me great support. I look forward to that continuing for many years to come. The extraordinary efforts of party members - from Shields and across the country - during my leadership campaign made me feel very proud indeed of our shared values and shared vision.
As I said at party conference on Monday, we now have a great responsibility to unite behind Ed's leadership. With his strong speech yesterday, Ed has already started the fightback. On the day that nominations close for the Shadow Cabinet, I think it right to explain to you and party members why I think I can best support him from the backbenches. The party needs a fresh start from its new leader, and I think that is more likely to be achieved if I make a fresh start. This has not been an easy decision but having thought it through and discussed it with family and friends I am absolutely confident it is the right decision for Ed, for the party and for me and the family. There are three reasons for this.
First, this is now Ed's party to lead and he needs to be able to do so as free as possible from distraction. Any new leader needs time and space to set his or her own direction, priorities and policies. I believe this will be harder if there is constant comparison with my comments and position as a member of the Shadow Cabinet. This is because of the simple fact that Ed is my brother who has just defeated me for the leadership. I genuinely fear perpetual, distracting and destructive attempts to find division where there is none and splits where they don't exist, all to the detriment of the party's cause. Ed needs a free hand but also an open field.
Second, I want to recharge my political and intellectual batteries to be of greater service to the party and the country. I have spent 16 years in or around the top of politics in one capacity or another. There's a world out there that I have touched but about which I want to know more - from education to the environment to foreign policy. I think I can best make a contribution to the election and success of the next Labour government under Ed's leadership by devoting myself to understanding better the new challenges and new ideas that will dominate the next couple of decades, and figuring out how to put our values into practice. There is also the new politics of community organising that we started with the Movement for Change in the leadership campaign and which has enormous potential that I want to develop for the good of the party.
Third, there is a personal dimension. I have essentially been a Cabinet Minister for the whole of Isaac and Jacob's lives. That is tough for me and tough for them. One happy consequence of the leadership election will be more time with Louise and the boys.
You know how important public service and politics are to me. My job as MP for South Shields is precious. So is my commitment to the Labour Party - the greatest reforming force in British life in the past, and I hope so again in the future. I have been touched by how many party members came up to me at Conference asking me to campaign for them in the upcoming Scottish, Welsh and local council elections, and I look forward to doing so. But I genuinely believe that I can best serve Ed, the party and the country from a new position, and I look forward to working with you to make a success of the decision.
It is a great privilege to represent South Shields in Parliament. There is much to be done to defend the town from the decisions of the new Government, and to put in place firm foundations for the resurgence of Labour as a leading force in British life under Ed's leadership. That is what I intend to do.
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