Steve Richards: Europe is a tempting opportunity

Share
Related Topics

David Miliband has come to life. During his speech to Labour's conference last month he made a bold defence of the European Union and launched an uncharacteristically passionate onslaught against the Conservatives and their new allies in Europe. Yesterday he became even more vivacious on both fronts, articulating as powerfully as any Labour minister since 1997 the case for Europe and the dangers of the Conservatives' outdated isolationism. Occasionally Tony Blair delivered similar speeches, but only when he was out of Britain. On Europe Miliband is fired up and has decided to make the argument at home.

He is doing so partly because he believes it. He has been a consistent pro-European, although one not complacent about the need for reform. In terms of the looming general election he acts because he senses David Cameron is vulnerable on Europe. Miliband is convinced that Cameron's approach challenges the view of the Conservative leader as a modernising centrist.

His advocacy of Tony Blair as the new EU president is also an act of conviction. Miliband remains close to Blair, although they have met infrequently in recent years. Those who have worked with the former prime minister in the past are mounting a significant campaign for their old boss, some behind the scenes and some in public.

Miliband became a senior adviser for Blair from the beginning of his leadership in the summer of 1994. He wants a big name as the first president and shares Blair's view that the occupant of the ill-defined post must be more than an anonymous behind-the-scenes fixer.

What if Blair does not get the appointment? For several weeks now there has been speculation that Miliband might be offered the more influential and well-resourced foreign affairs brief. Miliband denies he wants the job. That is no surprise. If he expressed an interest his authority in domestic politics would plummet immediately and there is still no guarantee he would be appointed.

Probably Miliband's private thoughts on the matter are mixed, made more complicated by his tentative ambition to lead the Labour Party. Last summer quite a few of those who turned against Brown wanted him, rather than Alan Johnson, to take over.

He still regards himself as a potential successor, but is almost certainly ambivalent about the demands of such a job and has worries about the direction Labour might take in the event of a heavy defeat. Europe must seem like an attractive alternative as he contemplates nightmare scenarios in terms of domestic politics. But what if the scenarios here are less bleak? He may not get offered the foreign affairs post, but if he does he will have to make a decision before he knows the answer to that question.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Tony Abbott: A man most Australian women would like to pat on the back...iron in hand

Caroline Garnar
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea performs in California  

Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting

Yomi Adegoke
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there