It’s been a good week for David Miliband. On Tuesday he was touted as the man to save the Labour Party and today the Times and the Guardian report that he is in line to become Europe’s first foreign minister.
Miliband is said to be admired in Paris and Brussels as one of the few genuine Europhiles in Gordon Brown’s cabinet. An EU diplomat remarks: “He is effective and well liked. He has an ability to combine tactics with an understanding of the political big picture and people find that very impressive.”
But would he run for the post? As Miliband contemplates the prospect of life in opposition, it would be strange if he were not tempted by the high politics of Brussels.Yet his success would be dependent on the failure of his mentor, Tony Blair, to become EU president. It would be unacceptable for two British figures (and two Labour figures) to claim both of the posts created by the Lisbon Treaty.
There is no doubt that Miliband has the talent and the ambition to take on the job. Since becoming Foreign Secretary, he has overseen the creation of a genuinely alternative approach that favours soft power and diplomacy over military intervention. But it would be a pity for Labour to lose one of its most cerebral and articulate figures from a cabinet that remains, by historical standards, profoundly undistinguished.
I would still be surprised to see Miliband leave the domestic scene. His stock has been rising since his impressive conference speech lambasting the Tories’ sinister European alliance. He will not miss his opportunity to claim the leadership next year.