The Times reports today that Jeremy Corbyn may be about to invite Ed Miliband to take up a shadow cabinet role. Although no sources are directly named, this looks like an officially sanctioned leak, one that was meant to hit the papers. Some of those quoted off the record were less than pleased about this prospect. One MP said: “Ed shouldn’t be in the Shadow Cabinet. He should be in jail for what he did to the Labour Party.”
For what it’s worth, I don’t really understand why Corbyn would bring Miliband the younger into the fold. The article seems to think it is based on Jeremy wanting Ed’s “counsel and advice” regarding how to deal with the media and avoid some of the, ahem, mistakes of the Ed M era. I can see why that information might be valuable – unfortunately, by the evidence of his resignation speech and his few appearances in the media since, Ed Miliband appears to be the worst person in the world to make an assessment of what Ed Miliband did wrong.
Corbyn’s problems with the media are very easy to fix anyhow. When confronted by the press, particularly when it is simply to tap in an open goal offered by the Tories on something, give them a statement as opposed to flashing them a disgruntled face and then walking on. Job done. You see, you didn’t to bring anyone into the shadow cabinet to fix the problem there.
There are two main things wrong with bringing Ed into the shadow cabinet. One, as demonstrated by the quote from the Times, he is a divisive figure, and when Corbyn’s inner circle already reads like a who’s who of divisive figures within the Labour movement, adding one more big name to this undesirable pantheon is unwise. Unless there is some massive upside to the move, which there is not. Two, far from Ed telling Jeremy where he’s going wrong, Miliband is likely to tell him to be ever more radical and leftist. A sort of “Don’t listen to them, Jeremy. Build the utopia and they’ll come” sort of thing, I can imagine. This is the last thing Jeremy needs around him.
There is a third reason, I suppose, but it’s so obvious I didn’t even think to bring it up at first: Ed Miliband is not exactly a popular, charisma machine, is he? I mean, even Livingstone, who turned out to be a total disaster, had his devotees. Ed doesn’t really, not now that he isn’t leader. Everyone’s a little bit embarrassed by the whole thing in retrospect.
Corbyn’s USP is that he is new and radical. So getting the last guy back in, who offered a sort of soggy who knows what that didn’t work out electorally at all, seems to be a less than smooth next move. I look forward to seeing whether it comes off or not. Perhaps Ed himself will realise it’s a bad idea and turn it down.