David Miliband set for return to lead his brother Ed's election campaign

Miliband Snr may take on new role, despite fears of tension with Ed Balls

Andrew Grice,Nigel Morris
Thursday 04 October 2012 15:08

Ed Miliband may ask his brother David to head Labour's General Election campaign in a move which would end the two-year rift between them since the younger Miliband won the party leadership.

Buoyed by an enthusiastic response to his Labour conference speech, Ed Miliband is in a stronger position in his party as he draws up its strategy for the 2015 election. But one question still hangs in the air: will his brother return to the Shadow Cabinet before the election?

One Labour insider told The Independent: "Offering David the post of election co-ordinator is under discussion. It's the most likely role if he decides to come back. Ed has made clear the door is always open."

However, some Labour aides are worried that the move could spark friction between David Miliband and Ed Balls, because David is said to be a "deficit hawk" and keener than the Shadow Chancellor to spell out spending cuts. Labour's campaigns chief is currently Tom Watson, the party's deputy chairman, a long-standing ally of Mr Balls.

The former Foreign Secretary, who confirmed this week he would stand for re-election as MP for South Shields in 2015, is still torn over whether to take a frontbench job under his brother.

On the one hand, friends say, he wants to do everything to help Labour to regain power. On the other, he does not want to write another chapter of what was dubbed the "psychodrama" featuring the brothers. One friend of David said: "He would like to see Ed offer a firmer olive branch."

David made only a brief appearance in Manchester during Labour's conference so he was not a "distraction" when his brother made his big speech. He told a fringe meeting that Labour had put itself in a position to win the next election but warned: "We have got a very big mountain to climb still. We have got 10 seats out of 212 in the south of England outside London. That is a very big, very tall order to turn over."

It has also emerged that, if he becomes prime minister, Ed Miliband may recall other former Labour Cabinet ministers who left the frontbench after the party's defeat in 2010. They include the Blairite Lord (Andrew) Adonis, the former Schools Minister who was the driving force behind the city academies programme of the Blair Government. He is close to Ed Miliband, who recently asked him to head a review of industrial policy.

Other "old guard" former ministers who could feature in a Labour government include Alistair Darling, the former Chancellor, and Lord (Peter) Mandelson, the former Business Secretary. One Labour source said: "Alistair Darling is a very reassuring figure on the economy. He could be our Ken Clarke."

Last night, the Labour leader's aides dismissed such speculation. One said: "It is presumptuous to talk about who might be in a Labour Cabinet. We have to win power first. No one is underestimating how difficult that will be."

Mr Miliband is also expected to line up rising stars on the Labour benches for ministerial jobs, including some elected in 2010. Chuka Umunna, the shadow Business Secretary, and Rachel Reeves, the shadow Chief Treasury Secretary – both of whom have been described as potential future Labour leaders – would be certain to join his first Cabinet.

Other figures from Labour's "class of 2010" have also won Mr Miliband's admiration. Allies say he is determined to promote people with the "common touch". They include Gloria De Piero, the ex-GMTV reporter who has embarked on a tour on his behalf to pinpoint reasons for voters' disillusionment with politics.

Chosen ones: Cabinet hopefuls

Lord Adonis

Highly regarded minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, was in the 2010 post-election negotiating team. Sympathetic to the Lib Dems.

Alistair Darling

Ex-Chancellor regarded as safe pair of hands during the turmoil of the 2008 financial meltdown.

Lord Mandelson

Architect of New Labour and close ally of Tony Blair, brought back from the cold by Gordon Brown.

David Miliband

Ed's older brother, the former Foreign Secretary is seen as far too big a beast to languish on the backbenches.

Gloria De Piero

Former GMTV presenter has impressed Ed Miliband with her efforts to reconnect with alienated voters.

Liz Kendall

Leading for Labour on social care, is liked by colleagues for her communication skills.

Michael Dugher

Former Brown aide who is close to Miliband. Says he's a "Yorkshireman, Beatlemaniac, footy fan, karaoke king... and Barnsley MP".

Rushanara Ali

Won back Tower Hamlets from George Galloway for Labour, she was the first person of Bangladesh descent to become an MP.

Anas Sarwar

Succeeded his father, Mohammad Sarwar, as MP for Glasgow Central. Will play a key role in the campaign against Scottish independence.

Owen Smith

The cerebral shadow Welsh Secretary is focusing on constitutional issues. Won plaudits for his spell in shadow treasury team.

Thomas Docherty

Hard-working MP who has made waves in his first two years in the Commons. Outspoken member of defence select committee.

Simon Danczuk

Won Rochdale from the Liberal Democrats at the last election, has a background in business and public relations.

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