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  1. Spotlight on Policy
  2. Elections
25 August 2010updated 27 Sep 2015 2:14am

David Miliband attacks Blair, Brown . . . and his brother, Ed?

Some so-far unreported extracts from tonight’s speech.

By James Macintyre

Below are some extracts that haven’t been trailed from David Miliband’s major leadership campaign speech this evening.

On Blair and Brown:

Tony and Gordon did great things. Really great things. But I know that in Tony’s time, he did not focus on income inequalities, stopped devolution at Scotland and Wales when we should have carried it on and too often defined himself against the party, not against the Tories.

Gordon was wrong about the 10p rate and wrong-footed in debates about the role of the state and the importance of crime and security as Labour issues. Both of them underestimated the extent to which the problems of the British economy had not been resolved by the 1980s.

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Interpretation: this is a significant break from Blair — though some who want David to go further will be disappointed that he does not mention Iraq — but it is worth noting that the line about Blair defining himself against Labour is the same as that which Ed Miliband has been saying for some time.

On why Miliband is standing and why doing so “requires clarity about the conditions for success and a reconciliation with the chance of failure”, as well as his “absolute determination to protect those that you do love”:

This is the sense of responsibility that motivates me. It brought me into the Labour Party 27 years ago, idealistic and open-minded, when our prospects seemed bleak. It made me support John Smith in the search for new ideas after 1992. It made me run for parliament in 2001. It made me turn down a big job in world politics last November. And it has made me stand for the leadership of our party today.

Still idealistic and open-minded about what we can achieve together.

It is a big decision to stand for the leadership. It requires clarity about the conditions for success and a reconciliation with the chance of failure. It asks a lot of the people you love; and an absolute determination to protect those that you do love.

For me, it is about understanding the time and place to take responsibility. Now is such a time.

Interpretation: David is emphasising that he is ready in a way he hasn’t been before (when he was urged to challenge Brown), but this could be seen as questioning whether Ed is ready, and the passage about the impact of standing — including on the people you love — could also be seen, rightly or wrongly, as a dig at Ed.

On why his politics are about so much more than “dinner parties”:

I was born in 1965.

It was a time of recovery but also vulnerability. For my family, the shadow of the Holocaust was still much, much stronger than it seems today.

London, that “Mansion House of Liberty”, to quote John Milton, this great city, did not give us dinner parties; it gave us life.

Leeds, where I spent a formative part of my childhood and my dad was a teacher of politics, did not give us political theory; it gave us the middle-class Middle Britain security that comes from being part of a strong community, where you put in but you got out, too.

Labour helped shape that postwar period of security and opportunity. And a strong, renewed, reorganised Labour Party is vital to the future of our country today.

Interpretation: perhaps the most powerful passage, this totally rebuts the slur from the Milibands’ rivals that they are merely “dinner-party” politicians.

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