David Miliband launched his leadership bid today, triggering a serious bout of Déjà vu. Having just read his speech from this morning again, one seemingly innocuous line sticks out. He told supporters:
“This leadership election is the beginning, not the end.”
Well, is it? The sentence assumes there will be an early leadership election, perhaps in July. That would certainly help him, as the frontrunner. Less time for one of his rivals to make a David Cameron-style speech that wins the day at the eleventh hour.
But would that be best for the party? Frankly, many members and activists are asking, what’s the rush? Nothing happens in August anyway, so why not have a debate over the summer and decide the leadership at the next conference at the end of September? In other words, they would be more impressed if DMil opens his 2010 conference speech by saying:
“This leadership election is the end, not the beginning.”
Miliband Major also promised to put an end to off the record briefings and negative campaigning during the contest. Good luck with that, a noble sentiment. But is it a strategic error?
The likes of Alastair Campbell aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, a point proved in spectacular fashion by Sky’s Adam Boulton recently. But whatever one's opinion of his skill set, Labour’s election campaign did seem to sharpen up when he took control, along with that other maestro, Peter Mandelson. Perhaps his more mischievous supporters should urge DMil to sign ‘em up…