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  1. Politics
16 May 2010

David Miliband declares the end of “New Labour”

Contest hots up as two talented brothers compete to lead “Next Labour”.

By James Macintyre

In March, I coined the term “Next Labour” to describe the new generation of Labour politicians who were desperate to break free from the destructive labels “Blairite” and “Brownite”.

Today, the unofficial leader of the Next Generation, David Miliband, emphasises the sentiment, declaring:

New Labour isn’t new any more. What I’m interested in is next Labour. And the route to next Labour is to be listening. Labour listening, talking, engaging, discussing – debating Labour.

The former foreign secretary adds:

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Blairites, Brownites, that’s past.

And significantly, he praises left-winger Jon Cruddas, who offers similar praise to Miliband and who may team up with his colleague as part of a “dream ticket” if Cruddas doesn’t run himself.

[Cruddas] has taught me a lot. He has been talking about housing for a long time. He has been talking about community organising for a long time.

Miliband’s intervention comes a day after his slightly younger brother, Ed, threw his hat into the ring. I have long seen Ed Miliband as a potential leader, first tipping in the NS back in 2008, when he was barely recognised by the commentariat. However, I must confess to some surprise at his choice to run this time, and can believe reports that he was in “agony” over the decision to stand against his brother.

But the decision is probably healthy. Many party insiders, notably Charles Clarke, believe that New Labour was badly damaged by Gordon Brown’s decision not to run in 1994 (Clarke believes it would have been better had he run — and lost), and the party has not had a leadership contest since then.

Rationally, it is probably true to say that the more candidates, the better. And one way or another, it is almost certain that a Miliband will be leading the party soon enough: Ladbrokes says that 90 per cent of the money placed on the contest has been for one or the other of the clever brothers.

It’s also worth remembering that the bookies were a bit more accurate than the polls when it came to the general election.

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