Thanks, bro! David Miliband hits out just as Ed is doing better
Just when Labour MPs had something to cheer about, David's article turns up like a turd in the post
DAVID MILIBAND has dismayed his friends with his lack of timing in writing an article, published today, in which he warns his brother Ed not to turn back the clock to the bad old days of Old Labour by alienating business.
Miliband, who still carries the Labour modernisers' torch, calls for "restless rethinking" and says it would be a mistake to allow Labour to return to its comfort zone by moralising against business.
"At the last election, not a single major business endorsed Labour and we cannot afford that again," Miliband warns in the New Statesman.
These views are strongly supported by many Labour MPs who still hanker for the Blairite party that won three elections in a row by cutting across to disgruntled Lib Dem and Conservative voters.
But the timing could not be worse - because Ed has just had the best week of his leadership.
He has finally begun to cut through himself to the public, by attacking Cameron and Osborne for their failure to do anything to curb the excessive bonuses for failure in the City. It was Labour who forced RBS chief executive Stephen Hester to forgo his £963,000 bonus.
Labour MPs at last had something to cheer about when David Miliband's article arrived like a turd in the post. Now they are grumbling that Brother Dave has shown all the timing of Ann Widdecombe partnering John Sargeant in Strictly Come Dancing.
Setting out his seven-point plan, David Miliband says: "We will win again only when two conditions are met. First, that we fully understand in a deep way why the electorate voted against us in 2010. Second, that we clarify the kind of future we seek for Britain, and the means to achieve it, in a way that speaks to the demands of the time."
Ed Miliband has had Cameron and co on the ropes for months over reforms to the NHS, but Brother Dave says Labour must show they are "reformers of the state and not just its defenders. The weaknesses of the 'big society' should not blind us to the policy and political dead end of the 'Big State'.
"The public won't vote for the prescription that central government is the cure for all ills for the good reason that it isn't."
Dave says Ed must establish "far more clearly" which parts of Tony Blair's and Gordon Brown's record in government need to be defended, "not just join the blanket Tory denigration".
However, most Blairites recognise that the worst thing that can happen to a party trying to get elected is for it to be seen to be divided. And David Miliband's ill-timed thoughts will make Labour look split, just at a time when they were coming together.
The consensus now among Labour MPs is that David Miliband has tripped himself up - and not for the first time. He wrote a similar article attacking Gordon Brown when his leadership was under threat.
In that article – published in July 2008 – he said that "to get our message across we must be more humble about our shortcomings, but more compelling about our achievements".
Labour MPs saw it as a coded signal that David was ready to strike and stand against Brown. Some ministers even stuck their heads above the parapet to criticise Brown, at the risk of destroying their ministerial careers.
David Miliband muffed it. He never had the courage to take on Brown, and when the chance came, the unions backed his brother and Ed won. That proved to many Labour MPs that when it comes to the crunch, David Miliband lacks the killer instinct. Fatally for a politician, the New Statesman opus shows he lacks timing too. ·