David Miliband wants to get his show on the road

The Mole: Supporters of Foreign Secretary want election timetable to be speeded up

Column LAST UPDATED AT 16:20 ON Tue 11 May 2010

The David Miliband camp are furious at the Brownites for setting out a timetable for the leadership election which could delay Gordon Brown's replacement being chosen for as long as four months.

There are strong suspicions among the Foreign Secretary's supporters that the delay is being encouraged by Brown so that Ed Miliband - David's brother - can get a campaign bandwagon rolling to oppose David.

While Nick Clegg and his fellow Lib Dems continue to dither over whether to jump into bed with the Tories or a Brownless Labour party, and David Cameron tells them it's "decision time", Labour's National Executive Committee was meeting at 2.30pm today to fix the timetable. The Mole hears that members of the David Miliband fan club are ready to start rocking the boat to make sure the NEC agrees a tighter timetable.

"It could be all done in seven weeks," one David Miliband supporter told the Mole. "We cannot go for four months without a new leader. We'd just have drift."

What has upset the David Miliband gang is the bit in Brown's statement yesterday evening on the doorstep of Number Ten where he said he would go "before the Labour conference" which is in October.

Brown told the Cabinet at their emergency meeting following the statement that he didn't want the candidates throwing their hats in the ring. That wrong-footed Joey Jones of Sky News who had already announced that David Miliband was going to announce he was standing within the hour. In the end, David Miliband had to abide by the rules.

Although Brown said in his resignation statement that he would not support any individual candidate, we all know his preferred successor would be his friend Ed Balls, who has sewn up the powerful Unite union, with scores of Unite-sponsored MPs to influence the electoral college in his favour.

But even the keenest Brownites have come to realise since last Thursday's election that Balls is as unpopular with the public as Brown and that Ed Miliband could be a better bet.

While David is Blairite, Ed has worked closely with Brown in Number Ten and is regarded by the Brownites as "one of us". He was, for example, entrusted with writing the Labour manifesto.

But his profile is nowhere near as high as that of his brother David, who as Foreign Secretary gets to address the nation in times of world crisis, and is even "best friends" with Hillary Clinton. Hence the need for Ed - so the theory goes - to have some time to get his act together.

The electoral college will comprise a third of votes for the Parliamentary party (MPs and peers), a third for the trade unions, and a third for the membership of the party. ·