David Miliband: Labour giant

The party will be poorer without him

If, as seems likely, David Miliband steps down from front-bench politics this afternoon, it will be a tragedy for the Labour party, if an entirely understandable thing to do. He has conceded that he arrived in Manchester "planning a slightly different week" to the one he had to endure, and yet his speech to the conference paying tribute to Ed shows what a giant man as well as politician he is.

His alleged comment to Harriet Harman, too, about clapping Ed over Iraq having voted for the invasion shows, at least, consistency and conviction. It also shows why perhaps he would be right to step down.

But that does not take away from the fact that doing so brings a rather dark side to this leadership contest. It feels a wrong and premature ending to his British political career. There is no doubt that it would have been better if, somehow, we could have had both Milibands on the front bench rather than one.