Thursday, September 28, 2006

The new tax man?

Miliband cosies up to Gordon.

Not since the post war government of Clement Atlee has a South Shields MP occupied one of the major Offices of State, James Chuter Ede held the post of Home Secretary. It seems that someone at The New Statesman has the hots for our current MP and Evironment Secretary David Miliband, he featured in their issue two weeks ago and will be featured again next Monday, now they think he will be the next Chancellor.

Miliband has now firmly placed a marker for the post Blair period, making very positive statements in favour of a Gordon Brown leadership and attempting to place himself nicely in the pecking order around the Cabinet table and indeed in readiness to succeed Brown should the electorate decide that enough is enough.

The New Statesman article proposes that David Miliband will be the man to step into the Treasury as Gordon Brown's Chancellor in the run up to the next election;

"Amid all the talk of lies and goodbyes at the Labour Party conference in Manchester, one development went largely unnoticed: the convergence of the two men likely to dominate the party in the absence of Tony Blair. The first, of course, is Gordon Brown. The second is David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, once Blair's anointed heir and now the Chancellor's most vocal cheerleader.
It has been deeply galling for those around the Prime Minister, who spent much of their time at the conference pursuing their desperate quest for a Stop Gordon candidate, to know that their best bet has already declared himself for the enemy. Miliband's interview in the pages of this magazine (NS, 18 September), in which he gave his unequivocal backing to the Chancellor, was seen by both sides as a major event in the soap opera. It was a bitter blow to those who had hoped to derail Brown. There are still hopeful reports in the media that he might change his mind, but Miliband himself is discouraging such speculation. Such an act of treachery would be out of character.

No amount of inducements will shake Miliband from his conclusion that Labour can win the next election only if it unites around the leadership of Brown. The moment Miliband removed himself from the contest, others should have realised that the game was up. But there is no accounting for the vanity of politicians. That said, the defeat of a John Reid-Alan Johnson dream ticket will only make Miliband's position stronger.

The imminent deputy leadership contest will provide a fascinating sideshow in the months to come: an opportunity for a genuine debate about the future direction of the party. Yet it is easy to forget that there will be another vacancy when Tony Blair and John Prescott resign. If Brown takes over, he will need to fill the post he has held for nine years. He is being urged to appoint Miliband as his Chancellor."

Miliband's brother Ed, and the former Treasury advisor Ed Balls are, of course, also "on message" with the Chancellor and will no doubt be making all the right noises on David's behalf. If the New Statesman is right in it's assessment of the situation we could be in for a new range of "Green taxes" as New Labour tries to regain the environmental initiatives which the Tories have latched on to recently.


The New Statesman.

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