THE BLOG

A Huge Talent, Great Loss but Magnificent New Opportunity for David Miliband

27/03/2013 12:14 GMT | Updated 27/05/2013 10:12 BST

David Miliband's appointment as head of the International Rescue Committee is a huge tribute to him, his talent and the regard with which he is held worldwide. It's also the fulfilment of a personal debt.

The IRC works with people in some of the most desperate circumstances in the world. 12,000 staff in over 40 countries helping millions of people displaced by civil conflict or climate change. It is the repayment of a personal debt because David and Ed's parents arrived in this country as refugees fleeing the Nazis.

For me, and all his close friends, this is a moment of great sadness and sense of loss that he and Louise will not be round the corner on a Sunday evening for a cup of coffee, glass of wine or bowl of spaghetti bolognese. He has been one of the most significant figures in Labour politics for the last twenty years and so much of what Labour has achieved David has played a part in.

He and his brother both stood to be leader of the Labour Party but the Electoral College delivered victory to Ed. The soap opera of the last two and a half years has been unavoidable. The endless fascination about their relationship is utterly legitimate but obviously constraining. In leaving, he is optimistic and carries a sense of pride and pleasure in Ed's success in uniting the Labour Party, demonstrating the strength and public reach of our policies, ideas and values. This means growing confidence that this will be a one term opposition, a Labour party more united than at any time, and confident in Ed Miliband's leadership.

There are those who will try to claim that this is the end of New Labour - my answer to them is that the New Labour of 1995 has to adapt and change to the vastly different circumstances of the UK and the global economic situation that we face today. So as times change, circumstances change and so too the political response changes but it remains anchored in the certainty that Labour stands for a coalition at the centre ground of politics which represents the broad consensus of public opinion in this country. And just as Ed has congratulated David with sincere generosity, so do we all and hope that one day he will make a further contribution to British public life.