David and Goliath


A blogger, popular among the commonly apolitical 18-24 year old age group and the favourite to be the next British Prime Minister, Joe Holt takes a closer look at the magnetism of David Miliband.

David Miliband- make note of the name, for if certain sections of the British press are to be believed, Miliband is the most likely successor to Gordon Brown as leader of the Labour Party and, by extension, a very plausible candidate to be a future Prime Minister.

At 42 he is the youngest person to have held the office of Foreign Secretary for over thirty years, and it is felt in some quarters that the Labour Party would be better placed to attack David Cameron’s Conservative’s 15-point lead in the polls if Miliband was at the helm.

He is particularly popular among 18-24 year olds, with a recent survey suggesting that he is the favoured candidate to be the next Prime Minister within that demographic. It is hardly surprising that he finds support with the younger population, given that he has age on his side and is among the first British secretaries to embrace blogging as a means of taking the public opinion on-board.

He hit the headlines in July, when he wrote an article for the Guardian outlining his plans for the future of the Labour Party.

However, it appeared that Prime Minister Gordon Brown did not factor in these forward-looking plans while many other people interpreted this as a challenge to Brown’s leadership.

Miliband has since pledged his renewed support to the party leader in the wake of allegations that he should be dismissed from the party on the grounds of disloyalty, but rumours persist that he plans to make a bid for the party’s leadership over the coming months.
This of course begs the question of what government under David Miliband would mean for Britain, for Ireland, for Europe and indeed for the world as a whole.

Speaking at Dublin’s Mansion House earlier this month, Miliband commended the response of the Irish government to the ‘No’ vote over the Lisbon Treaty. Indeed, at a time when an increasing number of European politicians are attempting to find ways to by-pass the Irish decision, Miliband was quick to defend our right to veto it.

This is striking given that he was a vocal supporter of the Treaty in the British parliament, and leads one to wonder whether he is a man of integrity who believes in the EU Constitution, or if he was simply telling the Irish what they wanted to hear.

Milliband went on to say that the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty has granted an opportunity to the people of Europe to clarify the role of the EU in the modern world.

It has evolved from the time when its aim was to prevent war by promoting trade between member states and Miliband feels that it must acknowledge and maintain its position as a global leader in terms of finding renewable energy sources, combating climate change and stabilising the world’s economy.

In terms of energy he would have the EU look to Russia, maintaining the recent trend in looking eastward to solve Europe’s looming energy crisis. It is too easy, he argues, to be sliced up when negotiating a separate deal for each of the 27 members, as has been the case for some time now.

The likelihood of Miliband assuming the role of Prime Minister in the immediate future is slim. Satisfaction with the Labour Party has hit its lowest August rating since the 80s, and it can be said with a reasonable degree of confidence that the Conservatives will triumph in the next General Election.

One imagines that Gordon Brown will bear the brunt of the fallout over this, and so a change of leadership in the Labour Party may well be imminent. The likely restructuring of the party in such an event would necessitate a fresh approach from the party heading into the next decade, and that’s something which may well play into Miliband’s hands.

However, what will happen if he makes a push for leadership before Brown is axed? Such a gambit would be risky – opinion polls show that he is no more popular than Brown outside of the younger age groups, and even if he was to wrestle the role from the Prime Minister it would surely be too late to recover the ground lost by Labour over the last 18 months.

The party would most likely still lose the next general election, and this would reflect poorly on a new leader. As such we may not see him in No. 10 Downing Street for some time yet, but it appears to be a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’.