Where does David Miliband’s departure leave Labour? At first glance, worse off without a “big beast” whose return to the front line would have enhanced its prospects of regaining power in 2015. The party’s opponents will portray it as the end of the Blairite era (again).
Ed Miliband would have preferred his brother to walk through his “open door” to the Shadow Cabinet room. But the next best option was for David to do what he has now done and left the building entirely. The “hanging around” option he has pursued since losing the 2010 Labour leadership contest was a very uncomfortable third way for both brothers.
His self-imposed exile across the Atlantic is not the “snub to Ed” portrayed by Conservative-supporting newspapers. They would have preferred David to keep “hanging around” so they could play up any tensions – real or imagined – between the Milibands.
In fact, David has done his brother – and the party he still loves – a favour by leaving the country. It is, in effect, what Tony Blair did so that he didn’t get in Gordon Brown’s hair after being succeeded as Prime Minister in 2007.
If you asked people in the Dog and Duck what Ed Miliband had done, the chances are that more would mention that he knifed his brother rather than say he replaced New Labour with One Nation Labour. Memories of his act of fratricide will fade once David departs.
Labour members and trade unionists used to call each other “brothers”. But there is only really room at the top for one brother in One Nation Labour. Now Ed will have the stage to himself, with no sibling noises off. It will be easier for him to display his wares, and in 2015 the voters will decide whether they want to buy.