DAVID Miliband, once seen as Labour’s fastest rising star, quit frontbench politics yesterday after failing to beat his brother Ed in the party’s closely-fought leadership contest.
The former foreign secretary said he would not stand for election to Labour’s shadow cabinet, to give Ed Miliband the “time and space” to lead the party in his “own direction”.
There had been constant speculation over whether David Miliband would stay in frontline politics since the results of the leadership contest were announced on Saturday evening.
Yesterday, sources close to David Miliband said he had become convinced that standing down was necessary after TV cameras caught him having a spat with Harriet Harman, Labour’s deputy leader, during his brother’s inaugural leader’s speech.
Suggestions that he had upstaged his brother by delivering a barnstorming speech at the Labour conference in Manchester also played a part in his decision.
A friend of David Miliband’s told City A.M.: “The comparison of their speeches, and his reaction to Ed’s, those were indications of how difficult it would have been to stay.”
Ed Miliband said his brother’s decision had been “thoughtful and gracious” and that the door would be open for a return to the frontbench at a later date.
The elder Miliband’s departure leaves the Labour ranks depleted at a time when the party is hoping to embark on the long march back to power.
Ed Miliband had been hoping his elder brother would become shadow chancellor, a job that former schools secretary Ed Balls is known to covet.
But just as a sibling rivalry ends, a matrimonial one begins: yesterday, sources within the Ed Miliband camp were suggesting Yvette Cooper, Ed Balls’ wife, would make a better shadow chancellor.