Coffee House

The dignity of David Miliband

25 September 2010

We spend a lot of time criticising politicians so it behoves us to praise one when they
behave with as much dignity as David Miliband has today. He has lost the Labour leadership election by the narrowest of margins and despite winning among both party members and MPs, but there has
not been even a hint of bitterness or irriation in his behaviour.

After the result, David addressed his team, telling them to rally around his brother. He told them their job was to ensure that Labour keeps the pressure on the coalition through the comprehensive
spending review.

Right now, David Miliband is touring the conference hotel, talking to conference delegates. On his face, there is no sign of the disappointment that he must be feeling. David Miliband has lost an
election today but won a lot of respect.

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  • cyllan

    Miliband senior will never, ever forgive his little brother for usurping his title.

    His hurt will fester and corrode their future relationship for all time.


  • Fox in a box

    this is what you get when you bring a banana to a knife-fight

  • Simon Stephenson

    Margarete Rolle : 9.07pm

    You must surely be aware that your thinking that the sun shines out of Miliband Major’s posterior makes you somewhat lacking in impartiality when it comes to judging the level of his dignity. I’m sure Eva Braun thought Hitler to have been unfairly maligned, too.

  • Margarete Rolle

    I agree with James Forsyth, and “dignified” is how I described David Milliband’s conduct during the General Election Campaign. He did not resort to calumny as most of the other politicians did. This is not a weakness, this is a strength. It’s a pity that the Media relishes the slanging matches and thus propels the wrong people into positions of power.
    And how shockingly obtuse some of the comments on this post are.
    David Milliband, you have my utmost respect.
    You have the intelligence, yes the dignity, the regard for people in need to make not only the best Labour leader, but the best Prime Minister this country can aspire to.

  • rosetta

    The election result was done on illegal rules by the unions…. Ed Milibands is now knifing the unions who put him in the position. Hope Ed does not worsen the party and then run off to Scotland / Doncaster. He has a mutated understanding of ‘I love you brother David.

    ‘If the labour party has any sense they will get it right and get David in as Leader.ASAP….. or else hide themselves away somewhere.

    extract found….

    Several shadow cabinet members said they could not understand how Ed could have considered running for the job coveted by his brother for so long.

    “In working class families you don’t take your brother’s girlfriend, you don’t take his job,” said one. “Maybe it’s a north London thing with the Milibands.”

    But one ally of David Miliband insisted: “He’s proud of Ed. He really is.”

  • Simon Stephenson

    Richard of York : 5.11pm

    You got the wrong impression if you thought I’d stopped responding to you. No, it’s just that I’m going to treat you as the strategic black propaganda vehicle that I think you are, rather than as a human being with whom it’s worth reasoning.

  • Simon Stephenson

    Richard of York : 5.11pm

    Warsi stood once for parliament, in 2005, for the constituency of Dewsbury – a constituency that at the time had been held by Labour for all bar 11 of the 83 years since they first won it in 1922. And according to you, the fact that she failed to win this election disqualifies her, as Chairman of the Conservative Party, from commenting about the political behaviour of the new leader of an opposition party?

    Grow up!

    Or perhaps you’ld like to define the set of those people who are entitled to comment on party leadership elections? By your standards, seemingly, only those who’ve been successful in one, which narrows the field somewhat since there are only sixteen such people from the three main parties who are still alive.

  • Simon Stephenson

    Barbara : 4.21pm

    “Ed is not tainted in anyway with governments of old and decisions made”

    1994-97 Speechwriter/researcher for G Brown
    1997-99 Special Adviser to G Brown
    2004-05 Chairman HM Treasury Council of Economic Advisors under Chancellor G Brown
    2006-07 Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Office
    2007-10 Cabinet Minister under G Brown

    He’s been actively at the heart of the Labour party for most of the last 16 years, including long periods as a key confidant and lieutenant to Gordon Brown. Most people, I think, would say that he was up to his neck in Labour’s economic policy-making during its 13 years in power, and if you have any thought that this was sub-standard, then I don’t see how he can reasonably be said not to be tainted by it.

    Of course, he may do what any properly-constituted human would do and own up to the mistakes he has made. But he’s a politician, and a Labour one to boot – they just don’t do that sort of thing.

  • Richard of York

    Thought you were not talking to me!…lol
    The point of the post was the hypocritical fact she was using his democratic election as a weapon having failed every attemp she ever made to get elected herself.
    Now I prefer it when you sulk, so off you go and polish your war medals.

  • Barbara

    David acted with humility and dignaty, and one should not forget, as brothers they will remain close. Ed will need his brother to stop the knives coming in his back, just as they did for Blair and Brown, and they will come. It may be a good thing, for Ed is not tainted in anyway with governments of old and decisions made. He might surprise you. David, will survive he’s much better than that, some of the comments, well… stop kicking a man when he’s down he might spring up and bite you. Good luck to them both although they won’t get my vote, not just yet.

  • Simon Stephenson

    Richard of York : 1.25pm

    You must have slipped off your intellectual lead today. You make a comment that is an ad hominem attack on Baroness Warsi, suggesting rather tortuously that one is disqualified from making a comment about an election unless one has been elected oneself. GDT then points out to you that there were seven unelected Labour peers in the last government, all of whom made plenty of comments about elections, and none of whom were ever criticised in any way by you for having done so. He then suggests that maybe you are being a tad inconsistent in allocation of fault.

    It’s quite straightforward. The challenge has come for you to address your criticism of Warsi either by accepting that it also applies to the seven Labour peers that GDT mentioned, or, if you are unable to be critical about the seven, accept and make clear that consequently you are unable to be critical about Warsi, either.

    This was where the discussion had reached, yet instead of continuing it to its conclusion, you go flying off at a tangent blathering on about David Cameron’s election. The point at issue wasn’t about an election – it was about whether or not you had employed a single- or a double-standard in treating Warsi differently from the Labour peers.


  • Simon Mennie

    What was MiliD supposed to do? Throw a public tantrum because his younger sibling defeated him?Of course he is going to publicly endorse the outcome and call for party unity behind the new leader-what else can he say? His private thoughts are quite another matter.Comments about dignity in defeat eliciting respect are otiose and pointless in this context.

    If MiliD was unprepared to unseat the monstrous Brown (for tribally and historically understandable reasons-Labour does not assassinate its leaders no matter how unpleasant and incompetent),he is even less likely to move against his little brother.No doubt he will be accommodated for the time being in whatever shadow cabinet MiliE puts together. Barring unforeseen circumstances, MiliD having passed up his one chance to lead the Labour party in June 2009 and ,as the media’s favourite, having also lost the leadership election ,has been publicly and most likely finally eclipsed.I would not be surprised to see him out of politics in the next five years.

  • Morag Gaherty

    Has anyone looked at the tag cloud on the right hand side? David Miliband appears in tiny font and Ed Miliband doesn’t appear at all. How odd – perhaps things will change, over the next few days.

    And yes, as a female of the species (as someone commented), Ed is the ugly one. More Mr Bean than Mr Ed.

    Unlike all the vitriolic commenters above, I also thought David was gracious in defeat. And no, I’m not a Labour supporter.

  • Paddy

    It was a ‘fix’.

    Ed Balls should have won!

  • Richard of York

    I don’t remember any of them complaining about Camerons election. Can you remind us of the votes for cameron and the percentages and numbers before it went out to the party members?
    lol looking forward to your response.

  • Holly ……

    Yeah right!!!
    No wonder you’re anxious with all that rubbish flying around your head.

  • Naomi Muse

    Really good blog. The comments say more about the commenters than about the blog itself. These comments don’t represent the right, they represent the morally defficient and intellectually challenged- some of whom exist in any political tendency. Good and human response though from the Spectator to David Miliband’s fall.

  • Simon Stephenson

    “Dress me for golf – you know, like they wear in Scotland.”

    Does anyone remember Ian Fleming’s disparaging description of the parvenu Goldfinger’s approach to personal appearance, in the novel of that name?

    Well, it strikes me that we now have a breed of male leaders who approach their own personal appearance in much the same way. It’s as though all of them have walked up to their PR advisers and said “Dress me for politics – you know, like they wear in Westminster”, with the result that in their plain, single-breasted, unpadded shoulder, shiny, often ill-fitting, off-the-peg suits, pale cream or white shirts, and vivid patternless ties, they all look as if they’ve come off the same Friday afternoon production line. Has it become so important to avoid the charge of “not belonging” that they all, without exception, will do anything that counters the fear that they might be thought to have too many idiosyncrasies to be completely sound?

    Are political outcomes really of no more importance than the results of fashion shows?

  • Frank P


    “Happy days!” Isn’t that spelled ‘daze’ in your fantasy world?


    I’m duly chastened! :-)

  • Simon Stephenson

    Ad Hominem Fallacy Warning

    Richard of York (10.31am) sneering at Baroness Warsi’s contribution to the Miliband discussion on the basis of what she is – without mentioning one single word of what she said.

  • GDT

    Warsi – unelected.
    Typical hypocrisy from a socialist.

    The previous Labour Government had 7 unelected cabinet ministers.

    Mandelson, Adonis, Malloch-Brown, Drayson, Scotland, Royall, Kinnock.

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