The Labour Conference Diary: David Miliband anxious to sing from the same hymn sheet
Tuesday 02 October 2012
As the camera scans the audience during Ed Miliband's big speech this afternoon, one face it will not alight on is David Miliband's. Aware of the damage it could cause if he were to be caught with one facial muscle out of place, the leader's elder brother high-tailed it out of Manchester yesterday.
Before he left, he gave a talk on youth unemployment and made a couple of comments which confirmed that he still stands firmly in the Blairite tradition. He pointed out that Labour has "a mountain to climb", with only 10 MPs in the South – a gentle warning not to ignore Southern middle-class voters Tony Blair strove so hard to keep on side. On the big issue of public spending, he remarked: "Fiscal responsibility is not a choice: fiscal responsibility is a requirement."
Generally, though, the older Miliband has kept himself on a tight rein, not wanting to be seen doing anything that might damage Labour's chance of victory. As he put it: "I'm not just in tune but singing assiduously from the hymn sheet that has been given by Liam [Byrne – the party's official youth unemployment spokesman] and Ed."
But he is not quitting politics. He has confirmed that he plans to stay in Parliament after the next election, when his brother will either be Prime Minister, or a defeated ex-leader. Either outcome will open a new phase in the story of the Brothers Miliband.
So there is such a thing as bad publicity...
While Tory spin doctors were delighted with their poster of the two Eds as clueless schoolboys over the line, 'Labour Isn't Learning', their former deputy chairman, Lord Ashcroft, was not. "It is not clear how much the party has paid M&C Saatchi to come up with this daft poster," he wrote on Conservative Home. If he was still paying, he would have asked "what it thought it was doing with my money".
Exes scandal MPs hoping for comeback
The expenses scandal finished many political careers for good, but that are others hoping it was but an interruption. The former Labour MP Dawn Butler, who denied putting in a claim for a "whirlpool bath", is hoping to have a go at unseating the Liberal Democrat, Sarah Teather, in Brent Central. While former MPs Shahid Malik, who had to repay more than £1,300, and Parmjit Dhanda, who was found to have overclaimed £2,000, are also planning comebacks.
Insults to Smith are the last Straw...
Jack Straw shifted 45-50 copies of Last Man Standing in Manchester yesterday. The book's most controversial claim is that the late John Smith was a drunk who would not have made an effective PM. Tony Blair wrote Smith was a "stupendous toper" but could hold his drink. Smith had hurled a document at Straw. A friend said: "You didn't need to be drunk to want to throw something at him."
Woolwich terror attack: Suspect Michael Adebowale saw friend 'literally sliced to pieces' in 2008
Emergency landing at Heathrow sparks further controversy over London airport capacity
Unrest may spread across Europe, warns Red Cross chief
EDL marches on Newcastle as attacks on Muslims increase tenfold in the wake of Woolwich machete attack which killed Drummer Lee Rigby
You want to get an Eton scholarship? All you need to do is answer four (not so simple) questions
- 1 What, let gays get married? We must be bonkers
- 2 Rocky Horror star Tim Curry 'suffers major stroke'
- 3 Exclusive: How MI5 blackmails British Muslims
- 4 EDL marches on Newcastle as attacks on Muslims increase tenfold in the wake of Woolwich machete attack which killed Drummer Lee Rigby
- 5 Farewell, Shameless. Your heirs have work to do
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.