Some Labour supporters are keeping schtum about their loyalties during the leadership contest. But not Ed Miliband.
On 29 June, Miliband declared on his Facebook page: “I have been loyal to Jeremy [Corbyn] throughout his tenure as Leader. I resisted calls to speak out against him when he was running for the job and since he was elected. I have backed him 100%.
“But my constituents and the country urgently need an effective, united Labour party to try and chart a progressive way forward for Britain after our exit from the European Union.”
Miliband’s voice was largely lost as MPs geared up for a vote of no-confidence in Corbyn, and pro-Corbyn protesters rallied in his defence.
But he’s determined to be heard. More than a month on from making those comments, he has released a video where he talks directly to camera about the need to find a Labour leader “who can reach out to every part of Britain”. Oh, really Ed? Y’think?
Miliband praises the leadership challenger Owen Smith as a “friend and colleague”, and declares: “For his vision, his principles and for his ability to lead, my choice in this leadership election is Owen Smith.”
The irony is that Miliband has already been deeply influential in this contest. It was he who introduced the new voting system that allowed Corbyn to win in 2015. This removed the disproportional weight MPs had enjoyed and opened up the floor to members and supporters. Bolstered by grassroots support, Corbyn won half the votes of party members, 84 per cent of registered supporters and 58 per cent of affiliated supporters.
Incidentally, Corbyn has recently mastered the art of producing video statements, moving from “hostage-style” videos shot in his house during the depths of the leadership coup to glossy montages of his campaign rallies:
On Saturday I was in Heartlands in Redruth, Cornwall. Always a pleasure to go to this beautiful part of the countryhttps://t.co/DvYsEZs37l
— Jeremy Corbyn MP (@jeremycorbyn) August 8, 2016