David Miliband’s campaign team has been looking round for some time for an endorsement that would broaden the look of its base, as part of the attempt necessarily to shed the “Blairite” image that threatens to harm their candidate.
Now it has found its man. Here is Dennis Skinner:
The big question is who are the Tories afraid of? Who is the best candidate to stand up against Cameron at the dispatch box? Who has the best chance to beat Cameron in an election? For me the best choice is David Miliband and that is why I will be supporting him as next Labour leader.
Two slight caveats: First, as I have said before, parties often bluff about who they fear most, though the claim that David Cameron fears David Miliband is hard to disbelieve. Secondly, Skinner is seen as a hard left champion, but is actually a tribal figure with a wise head in the Alastair Campbell mould, one who broadly backs the leadership. I was struck, for example, to see him among the party hierarchy — Campbell, Peter Mandelson et al — sadly saying goodbye to Gordon Brown at Labour HQ on the rainy night in May when the former PM finally stepped down.
Having said that, the Skinner endorsement is a real and symbolically significant boost for David Miliband in this close race.