With Gordon Brown now having weighed in on the subject of who should be the next Labour leader (in a carefully worded speech that never once used the words “Jeremy” or “Corbyn”, but nonetheless could not have been referring to anyone else throughout), and David Miliband having given his own barnstorming speech on the matter (Britain is in danger of becoming a one party state, he says), the spotlight naturally falls on Ed Miliband and the question of whether he’s going to make his own intervention – and whether or not that’s a good idea. Several articles have been written already imploring him to do so. Ed himself put out a statement yesterday, basically saying he wasn’t planning on putting out a statement. So I thought it was worth taking a deep breath and figuring out if such a thing would, were Miliband the younger up for it, actually be a good idea or not.
To begin with, the pickle the Labour Party is in is at least partly of Miliband’s doing, if not intentionally for the most part. He decided to tack way to the left in 2010 after he became leader, only to take a more moderate approach as May 2015 neared. This set the stage for leftist disappointment and the confused narrative about why exactly Labour lost.
After the election, Ed decided to quit immediately. I understand why he did so as it would have been brutal for him to have stayed on, but having dashed in a hurry and left the shards of the party scattered on the linoleum means that some of the responsibility for at least doing what he could to ensure the path towards his successor was somewhat smooth was warranted, at least ethically speaking. Instead, we’ve been told Ed is “out of the country”, something which sounds like a confused euphemism.
So now that he’s done nowt thus far as Corbynmania has spun out of hand, should he step in at this point and add himself to the pantheon from Labour’s past attempting to avoid a catastrophe? Like everything to do with Ed Miliband since after he became Labour leader in September 2010 – the not so bad general election campaign, for instance – he’s left it all too late to do anything effective about a problem he partially created. Any intervention now would at best be ineffective, at worst – like all the other bigwigs laying in – could be counterproductive. You can see how the Corbyn trolls will spin it already – he’s just jealous of Jeremy’s success at reaching people he couldn’t. You lost Ed, go away. You lost because you were too right-wing at that.
The ballots have already gone out as well. People have started to vote in the contest. The time for massively changing the minds of the Labour electorate (members and entryists alike) has probably passed for the most part.
Had he stepped in weeks ago, who knows; it might have helped, it might not have. But given where we are now, it’s probably best for everybody, Ed Miliband included, if Ed Miliband kept his silence on the current Labour leadership contest intact.