The return of David Miliband

Former foreign secretary gives his first major interview since losing the Labour leadership to his b

Has David Miliband's rehabilitation programme begun in earnest? This morning on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, he gave his first major broadcast interview since losing the Labour leadership election in September to his brother, Ed. Here are some highlights:

  • Asked about how relations were with his brother, Miliband replied gnomically: "Brothers are for life."
  • On remaining an MP: "I'm very committed to my constituency."
  • On what Ed Miliband has been saying about the "squeezed middle": "[It has] touched a chord."
  • On Labour's prospects: "We have to be economically credible." He noted, in this connection, that the French Socialists were considering choosing the current head of the IMF Dominique Strauss-Kahn as their presidential candidate next year.
  • Asked about Labour's record in office: "We must learn the right lessons of Labour in government." In other words, as he said throughout the leadership campaign, don't "trash" the record.
  • On the failure of the centre left across Europe: Miliband noted that there are centre-right governments in most of the major countries in the EU and said this is "in part because the economic terms of trade have changed. And in part because the right has got smart" and has moved on to the "centre ground".
  • On immigration: Miliband recommended that people read the recent Searchlight report on attitudes towards race and immigration in this country; he drew from it the conclusion that "immigration doesn't sit on its own", but must be understood alongside economic factors.

Jonathan Derbyshire is Managing Editor of Prospect. He was formerly Culture Editor of the New Statesman.

Getty
Show Hide image

Will Jeremy Corbyn stand down if Labour loses the general election?

Defeat at the polls might not be the end of Corbyn’s leadership.

The latest polls suggest that Labour is headed for heavy defeat in the June general election. Usually a general election loss would be the trigger for a leader to quit: Michael Foot, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband all stood down after their first defeat, although Neil Kinnock saw out two losses before resigning in 1992.

It’s possible, if unlikely, that Corbyn could become prime minister. If that prospect doesn’t materialise, however, the question is: will Corbyn follow the majority of his predecessors and resign, or will he hang on in office?

Will Corbyn stand down? The rules

There is no formal process for the parliamentary Labour party to oust its leader, as it discovered in the 2016 leadership challenge. Even after a majority of his MPs had voted no confidence in him, Corbyn stayed on, ultimately winning his second leadership contest after it was decided that the current leader should be automatically included on the ballot.

This year’s conference will vote on to reform the leadership selection process that would make it easier for a left-wing candidate to get on the ballot (nicknamed the “McDonnell amendment” by centrists): Corbyn could be waiting for this motion to pass before he resigns.

Will Corbyn stand down? The membership

Corbyn’s support in the membership is still strong. Without an equally compelling candidate to put before the party, Corbyn’s opponents in the PLP are unlikely to initiate another leadership battle they’re likely to lose.

That said, a general election loss could change that. Polling from March suggests that half of Labour members wanted Corbyn to stand down either immediately or before the general election.

Will Corbyn stand down? The rumours

Sources close to Corbyn have said that he might not stand down, even if he leads Labour to a crushing defeat this June. They mention Kinnock’s survival after the 1987 general election as a precedent (although at the 1987 election, Labour did gain seats).

Will Corbyn stand down? The verdict

Given his struggles to manage his own MPs and the example of other leaders, it would be remarkable if Corbyn did not stand down should Labour lose the general election. However, staying on after a vote of no-confidence in 2016 was also remarkable, and the mooted changes to the leadership election process give him a reason to hold on until September in order to secure a left-wing succession.

0800 7318496