In my interview with David Miliband in July in the magazine, I pushed the shadow foreign secretary on whether he’d quit the shadow cabinet if he lost to his younger brother, Ed, on 25 September. Mili-D replied, after some ducking and dodging of the original question:
I’m not walking away from the people of South Shields. I’m not walking away from the Labour Party . . . I’m very happy to serve under anyone.
Since that interview, more and more “friends” and “allies” of the elder Miliband have suggested he simply would not be able to serve under Ed and that we would indeed see the former foreign secretary “walking away” from front-bench politics. As this magazine has argued, that would be a “tragedy” for the Labour Party.
So, on yesterday’s Politics Show, on BBC1, I thought I’d ask David to clarify his position and ask whether he’d give an explicit, on-air guarantee that he’d stay in the shadow cabinet under an Ed Miliband leadership. He responded:
Of course. And I am absolutely clear about my intentions, my assumptions, and I answered that very, very clearly.
The presenter, Jon Sopel, then asked him whether it would be “difficult” to serve under Ed, to which David replied, after a pause:
I don’t think . . . I don’t know, is the truth.
Hmm. I tried winding him up again, later on, pointing out that “I could never serve under my younger brother” (note: I don’t have a younger brother!), and the shadow foreign secretary responded with this firm and rather amusing statement:
That says a lot about why you’re in journalism and I’m in politics. I’m a man of infinite patience and you’re a man of infinite impatience.
Assuming Ed Miliband wins — and despite the new Sunday Times/YouGov poll suggesting he will, it’s still a big “if” — let’s see how “infinite” David’s patience is . . .