POLITICS

David Miliband Has 'Self-Denying Ordinance' Over Question Of British Politics, Labour And Brother Ed

02/04/2014 17:45 BST | Updated 02/04/2014 18:59 BST
PA

NEW YORK -- David Miliband has a "self-denying ordinance" to questions of British politics, the Labour Party or his brother, Labour leader Ed Miliband. Speaking in New York on Wednesday, the former foreign secretary, who is currently president of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), demurred on a question on recent criticism that his brother needed to be "bolder" on domestic policy.

"I’ve just got to have a self-denying ordinance," he told HuffPost UK. "The only thing I can say to you is I’m sure it’s frustrating for you that I have this self-denying ordinance but you’ll have to guess whether it’s more or less frustrating for me."

Addressing the press, Miliband later added: "Of course I have a passion about British politics and where Britain goes, but my focus is on what we [the IRC] are doing around the world so I’m not going to get myself in the middle of the spats of British politics."

Speaking at the launch of an IRC report on Afghanistan, a document that highlights the "profound social, economic and security needs of the Afghan people", Miliband was reluctant to criticise David Cameron, who in December had said that British troops would withdraw from Afghanistan "mission accomplished".

"I think the message of the report moves on from the decision to draw down troops and says that the draw down shouldn’t be equated to the washing of hands of the country," Miliband said, "and to be fair to the British government there have been statements from the Prime Minister and others that say reasonably thick development aid and educational and cultural links should be maintained."

However, the 48-year-old conceded that selling a message of continued support to a British and American public weary of more than a decade on conflict in Afghanistan was is difficult task, but advised that the Western powers "owe it to themselves as well as the Afghan people to double-down on aid that works in a time that we’re drawing down on our military forces".

He added: "There’s an immense need in Afghanistan but there’s also a strategic need which is simple one – we’ve learnt over the past 30 years that neglect of Afghanistan if foolish because it is not contained within Afghanistan. It at least affects the region of South Asia, including Pakistan. And, as shown most terribly on 9/11, neglect has global consequences."

On the debate over Europe, Miliband, who described himself as "a passionate supporter of Britain’s membership of the European Union," said that the party leaders "including Nigel Farage" all seem to be "having their say".

"We’re getting into a more serious and sustained discussion about the real risks for Britain of toying with leaving the European Union," he said, adding that there has been "pretty clear warnings" coming to the three main party leaders that "having your hand on the exit door is a dangerous place to be for Britain".

On Wednesday evening, Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg will take part in their second debate on the issue of Britain's membership of the EU.

Read the full IRC report 'What Next For Afghanistan' here.