Should a leadership contender “trim” to win?

David Miliband’s dilemma has echoes of Ken Clarke’s own leadership bids.

Yesterday, this blog touched on the question of whether David Miliband, in order to win the Labour leadership, could do more himself to shed the unfair "Blairite" tag hung round his neck by the media and his internal opponents.

Looking at the trailed sections of his big campaign speech this evening, I see no sign of him doing so: there is no indication, for example, of a fresh move to get out from under the shadow of Iraq. But we have yet to see the full text.

In some very real ways, this is admirable: there was something heroic -- even for those of us who firmly opposed the invasion in 2003 -- about the elder Miliband's refusal to trash it during the New Statesman hustings in June.

But, again, it must be said that he appears to be faced with a dilemma about whether to disown elements of his perceived past political heritage for the sake of further popularity in his own party, or stick by certain principles.

The man himself is said to be telling aides that he refuses to "pander" in this contest. "That would be the wrong thing to do," he has been heard saying. And he may be right.

Yet this reminds me of the dilemma -- at first sight similar -- faced by Kenneth Clarke during his three attempts to become leader of the Conservatives. Clarke's supporters, particularly in 2001, pleaded with him in private to "trim" his positive position on Europe, the one area that many of his fans still believe held him back from fulfilling his dream of becoming leader.

There is a crucial difference here, however: David Miliband is not actually the ideological "Blairite" that he is perceived to be, as any closer reading of his politics shows.

Yet all the more reason to make it clear -- including tonight -- how his own set of politics is unique.

He may be right not to pander. But he may have to trim to win.

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
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Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.

 

 

In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.