DAVID Miliband will not quit his North East seat after younger brother Ed snatched the Labour leadership from his grasp, a key ally yesterday declared.
Speculation has been rife that the South Shields MP would quit politics after his dream of becoming Labour leader was shattered. But Alan Donnelly, chairman of the South Shields Labour party, yesterday told The Journal there was “no question” of him stepping down.
It remains unclear whether the older Miliband brother will serve under Ed, although he could set out his intentions in his speech as Shadow Foreign Secretary to the Labour conference in Manchester today.
However, as a North East MP urged him to stay in the Shadow Cabinet, Ed Miliband was unable to say what his older brother will do.
The new Labour leader said his brother had shown “generosity and graciousness” in defeat. “I think he needs time to think about the contribution he can make,” he added, “I think he can make a very big contribution to British politics.”
His comments came as Alan Donnelly, chairman of the local Labour party in South Shields, told The Journal he had spoken to David after he failed to win the leadership contest, whose outcome was announced on Saturday. Mr Donnelly said: “He is a very strong character. I know he is very disappointed and he will just move on from it.
“I would hope he is giving some thought to what job he would like to do in the Shadow Cabinet.”
Asked if David might quit his parliamentary seat, he said: “Obviously, there is no question that he would stand down.
“He went into this election on the basis that there are no guarantees and the thing is that he has always said, and said it through the campaign, that he drew enormous strength from the constituency.”
Easington MP Grahame Morris, who backed Ed, said Labour had chosen the “right man” to be its leader.
He said: “I feel that his views were in line with my own and a large number of Labour party members, recognising that we had achieved a lot in government, things like the minimum wage and investing in public services, but also that we lost touch with large sections of the electorate who felt they couldn’t support us. So Ed showed humility.
“I do think he is the right man, he is a new generation, to take the Labour party forward and to win the next Labour election.”
On David Miliband, he added: “I do hope he will be part of the team. He is a great talent. He’s absolutely untouchable as a Commons performer, but I do hope there is a big job for him.”
Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman said Ed had won by a “whisker” but insisted the party would unite behind him. Of David Miliband, she said: “Although he is disappointed, I know he will step forward and play a really important part in Labour’s future.”
'I am my own man' vows Labour's new leader as trade union support comes under scrutiny
LABOUR activists cheered their new leader Ed Miliband as the party’s annual conference formally got under way yesterday.
Mr Miliband was present on the platform at Manchester Central as national executive committee chair Ann Black opened proceedings with a message of congratulation.
Those present in the hall responded with applause and whooping, acknowledged by their new party leader with a wave, but their welcome was quickly followed by a demand for unity.
Speaking earlier, Ed Miliband insisted that he would be “my own man” amid Tory claims his union backing would push the party to the left.
Mr Miliband won the race to succeed Gordon Brown in dramatic fashion on Saturday, beating his brother David by just 1.3% of the vote after a hard-fought four-month contest.
Older brother David won the support of a majority of Labour’s MPs at Westminster and grassroots activists, but crashed to defeat as a result of Ed’s dominance among the trade unions. In his first interview since the vote, the new Leader of the Opposition played down union bosses’ post- result claims that their man had been elected.
He said: “I am nobody’s man, I am my own man. I am very clear about that.”
Mr Miliband said he had enjoyed a “brief chat” with his brother but it was too early to know whether David would play any role in his Shadow Cabinet.
“We had a brief chat yesterday. He has shown extraordinary generosity and graciousness to me, both in public and in private, and he now wants me to get on with the job of leading the party.”
Mr Miliband indicated, however, that he wanted to employ “all the talents from across our party” in his top team, including those of the quartet of defeated leadership rivals.
“There is absolutely no business here of any kind of sense of ’who supported whom’. The past is another country as far as I am concerned,” he said.
He pointed out that he received more individual votes in the contest than any of his rivals and defended his high proportion of support from the unions.
“Why did union members vote for me in large numbers? Because, I think, I was talking about things that matter to working people in this country, not just issues of low pay or inequality, but issues around tuition fees and how people can get on and their kids can get on in life, housing.”
The pair’s mother was “relieved that the contest is over”, he said. “She is certainly not cross. I have spoken to her. She is obviously pleased for me and disappointed for him.”
For the latest on the conference log on to www.journallive.co.uk
NEW Labour leader Ed Miliband was not the first choice of the majority of Labour’s MPs in the North East.
Just six of the MPs gave Ed their first preference compared to 10 who backed his older brother David Miliband, who is MP for South Shields, according to figures released by the Labour Party.
A further five MPs didn’t make either Miliband brother their first choice to be Labour leader, while Newcastle East’s Nick Brown did not cast his MP vote because he is Opposition Chief Whip. Under Labour’s electoral system, voters can rank who they want to be leader in order of preference, with several rounds taking place until one of the candidates achieves at least 50% of the vote.
In the Labour leadership contest, Ed Miliband secured the narrowest of victories over David with the vote split 50.65% to 49.35% after four rounds, sparking claims that the older brother would have won if a handful more MPs have backed him overall.
Union support eventually edged Ed ahead to secure victory.
Agency axe under fire from region
THE coalition’s decision to axe the regional development agency will today come under attack at the Labour conference.
Shadow Business Secretary Pat McFadden will slam the decision to cut the eight regional development agencies outside London – including One North East – and replace them with local enterprise partnerships, whose powers and role remain sketchy.
In a conference speech, he will say: “You don’t rebalance the economy by abolishing the regional development agencies that are providing support for business up and down the country.
“Eight organisations being abolished, 58 bidding to replace them. That’s what they call the bonfire of the quangos. This is more bodies chasing less money.”
Development agencies currently spend around £1.5bn a year, but the coalition has allowed £1bn to a new regional growth fund over two years.
The Shadow Business Secretary may also highlight business warnings of “fragmentation” as a result of the shake up with small bodies chasing “tiny” amounts of funding in his speech to the Labour conference in Manchester.
The developments come after One North East has already been forced to make £33m of cuts. Further cuts are expected when the Government unveils its comprehensive spending review next month.
Roberta Blackman-Woods, part of the shadow business team, said cutting One North East cash and scrapping the agency made “no sense”.
The Durham City MP said: “The £33m was meant to help small businesses in a region that needs it most. I just don’t see how it’s sensible when, on one hand, the coalition talk about growing the private sector and, on the other, cut the very agency which has been doing an excellent job of that.
“This £1bn regional growth fund will not provide a fraction of that support, frankly, and they are not even clear how it will be handed out.
“It looks like the region will lose out for purely ideological reasons.”