David Miliband has decided against taking up a post in the Labour party's shadow cabinet. Quelle surprise. It was the only choice he could've made given the circumstances.
From the moment his kid brother Ed announced his intentions to run against him for the party leadership, it was obvious that this shebang was going to end in hurt feelings and bruised egos within the Miliband clan – I just didn't think Dave would be the one running home to mummy for a soothing mug of hot chocolate and a kiss on the forehead to make it all better. Still, stranger things have happened than poll results proving me wrong.
When the news first broke last weekend, my initial hope was that David would deal with the defeat quickly so that he could remain an integral member of the shadow cabinet. The party needs to keep his centre-leaning, political talent on the books, I thought, if it was going to have any chance of wresting back power from the Tory/LibDem love match come the next general election.
As the week progressed, however, it became increasingly apparent that any notion of moving swiftly past this was unlikely and that the situation for both brothers would remain untenable if the elder sibling was to stick around.
David said it himself late yesterday afternoon when he formally announced his plans to check out the view from the backbenches on Sky News: 'I would be a distraction to Ed's leadership.' And he'd be right. I think it's safe to say, that for the short term at least, the media and the public would've been more interested in the real life soap opera between the two as they attempted to cobble together an unenviable new working relationship than the dryer political machinations of intra-party relations.
Altruistic reasoning aside, David also has his own personal feelings to deal with. Yesterday he put on a brave face and spoke of love and respect for Ed, but it's no doubt galling to have been so publicly challenged and then defeated by your baby brother.
Competition between siblings can be hard enough to deal with, but throw the same profession into the mix and you're asking for trouble – anyone who was a fan of TV comedy Frasier will know what I mean. My younger sister and I have been jostling for the non-existent, McAuley family alpha-female award since we were children, but as adults our jobs and lives are very different so her successes don't impinge on mine and vice versa. Plus we don't have the national spotlight to contend with. Thank goodness.
What the Miliband boys need now is space from each other. For Ed, this means that he'll have some breathing room to take on his new role free from the family ties that bind. But, perhaps more importantly, David can sit out of the limelight, lick his wounds, do his best for his South Shields constituents, and come back to the frontline with a vengeance when the time is right.
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By: Kate McAuley