David Miliband steams ahead in donations race

Blur drummer and Lord Sainsbury help ex-foreign secretary amass £185,000 in donations.

The Labour leadership race may still be too close to call, but when it comes to donations, David Miliband is streets ahead of his rivals.

Figures released by the Electoral Commission today show that Miliband Sr raked in an impressive £185,000 in June, with Ed Balls trailing on £28,000 (he picked up £15K from the novelist Ken Follett) and Ed Miliband in third place on £15,000. Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott didn't receive any donations over the £1,500 declaration threshold.

Miliband's war chest includes £20,000 from the top Labour donor, Lord Sainsbury (plus £11,188 for office use), £10,000 each from the film-maker David Puttnam and the IT mogul Parry Mitchell, and £6,000 from the Blur drummer, Dave Rowntree. And there's more -- his reported total excludes 94 smaller donations under the £1,500 threshold.

Miliband's fundraising powers help him in two ways. Not only do they allow him to run a well-resourced campaign, they also suggest that, if elected, he could attract and retain the sort of big-money, big-charisma donors Labour has conspicuously lacked in recent years.

In a nod to his Marxist roots, Miliband has pledged to contribute one-third of his donations to a "fighting fund to help Labour win seats back at the next election". It's the sort of smart gesture that shows he is much more than the Blairite clone of popular imagination.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Donald Trump's healthcare failure could be to his advantage

The appearance of weakness is less electorally damaging than actually removing healthcare from millions of people.

Good morning. Is it all over for Donald Trump? His approval ratings have cratered to below 40%. Now his attempt to dismantle Barack Obama's healthcare reforms have hit serious resistance from within the Republican Party, adding to the failures and retreats of his early days in office.

The problem for the GOP is that their opposition to Obamacare had more to do with the word "Obama" than the word "care". The previous President opted for a right-wing solution to the problem of the uninsured in a doomed attempt to secure bipartisan support for his healthcare reform. The politician with the biggest impact on the structures of the Affordable Care Act is Mitt Romney.

But now that the Republicans control all three branches of government they are left in a situation where they have no alternative to Obamacare that wouldn't either a) shred conservative orthodoxies on healthcare or b) create numerous and angry losers in their constituencies. The difficulties for Trump's proposal is that it does a bit of both.

Now the man who ran on his ability to cut a deal has been forced to make a take it or leave plea to Republicans in the House of Representatives: vote for this plan or say goodbye to any chance of repealing Obamacare.

But that's probably good news for Trump. The appearance of weakness and failure is less electorally damaging than actually succeeding in removing healthcare from millions of people, including people who voted for Trump.

Trump won his first term because his own negatives as a candidate weren't quite enough to drag him down on a night when he underperformed Republican candidates across the country. The historical trends all make it hard for a first-term incumbent to lose. So far, Trump's administration is largely being frustrated by the Republican establishment though he is succeeding in leveraging the Presidency for the benefit of his business empire.

But it may be that in the failure to get anything done he succeeds in once again riding Republican coattails to victory in 2020.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.