David Miliband is a wimp and Labour can forget him
Alistair Darling’s memoir makes Brown look delusional – but D Miliband just looks gutless
The Darling memoirs cast plenty of rocks at members of the Brown camp, including Ed Miliband – Brown's 'brains' at Number Ten. But they also appear to deliver a fatal blow to any remaining hopes of his brother David Miliband one day leading the party because they show he lacks the killer instinct.
Darling reveals he held secret talks with David Miliband at an Essex farmhouse – believed to be a Christmas tree farm owned by his former political adviser and former Scotsman political editor Catherine Macleod and her husband – to discuss getting rid of Brown to limit the scale of the defeat before the 2010 election.
"The question at that time wasn't whether we'd lose, but how badly – and whether there was any way of getting rid of Gordon.
"I said I knew him well and that there was no way he would go voluntarily… That afternoon, we came to a pretty unsatisfactory political conclusion: that Gordon wouldn't leave; that there was no alternative leader in prospect; and there was an inevitability that we must just soldier on."
Darling ludicrously denies there was a plot. In fact, as the Mole reported at the time, there was a plot. James Purnell had just resigned that weekend as social security secretary and David Miliband's allies had been planning for months to come out in David's favour. All it needed was for David to agree to run against Brown… and he bottled it.
David Miliband agreed to the meeting because he wanted Darling to do a Geoffrey Howe – to resign as chancellor and then to plunge the knife into the prime minister. That was Miliband's motive for meeting him at the Christmas tree farm and it could have changed the course of history. But Darling refused, and Miliband lacked the nerve.
Blairite cheerleader John Rentoul put the question on Sunday: "Why did nobody stop Gordon?" The answer is clear – David Miliband, the Blairites' candidate, was supposed to do just that but lacked the guts. No doubt David calculated that if he won the leadership, but lost the election (because Labour's chances had been trashed by Gordon), he would never be prime minister.
The headlines over the weekend have concentrated on the poisonous atmosphere in the Brown camp. Darling's memoir could do lasting damage to the efforts by Ed Miliband and Ed Balls to steer Labour back to power. Not only does Darling's book show that Labour, not the Tories, were the really nasty party, it also shows that Brown – and, by extension, his attack dog Balls - were in denial about the true extent of the economic crisis.
Darling said the "forces of hell" were unleashed on him by the Brownites because he supported reducing the national deficit and they believed in spending their way to recovery by more borrowing. This is still Labour's official policy, and Darling says it was and is "not credible".
But the real victim of Darling's kiss-and-tell revelations is David Miliband who should now go off and do something useful, like running a charity, and stop trying to con his friends into thinking that if his brother falls under a bus, he could take over the leadership. He won't, because he is a wimp. ·
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