Aims to give younger brother space as Labour leader
For David Miliband, being defeated for the Labour leadership -- the leadership he was considered the odds-on favourite to win -- to his younger brother must have been a truly humbling experience.
The general consensus within his party seems to be that he has embraced that humility in withdrawing from frontline politics, and resigning himself to a more humble role as a backbench opposition MP.
"The party needs a fresh start from its new leader, and I think that is more likely to be achieved if I make a fresh start," the elder Miliband announced. "Having thought it through, and discussed it with family and friends I am absolutely confident it is the right decision for Ed, for the party, and for me and my family."
"This is now Ed’s party to lead and he must be able to do so as free as possible from distraction," he continued. "This is because of the simple fact that Ed is my brother, who has just defeated me for the party leadership."
David seemed to believe -- at least so far as his statements have been concerned -- that resigning to the backbench was the best way to promote an image of unity amongst Labour.
"I genuinely fear perpetual, distracting and destructive attempts to find division where none exists, and splits where they don’t exist, all to the detriment of the party," he concluded.
"Two adults who happen to be brothers who have different views about the party. It's important to have magnanimity in defeat... It didn't become the bloodbath a lot of people predicted. I'm not dead, I'm still here," he explained. "It's important I don't get in the way of that if Ed wants to make plans to reform, that's his own choice. He must have an open field to lead as he sees fit."
For his own part, the younger Miliband -- and new Labour party leader, Ed Miliband -- seemed accepting of his brother's decision, if not slightly disappointed.
After all, the younger Miliband had previously announced he planned to offer his older brother the role of Shadow Chancellor. That role will now fall to Yvette Cooper.
"He is my brother and I am very clear that, as leader of this party, my door is always open for him to serve in the future, either in opposition or back in government," the younger Miliband announced. "I am obviously delighted to be leader of this party but I am obviously disappointed for him. That is the paradox."
Of course, there is another aspect to the elder Miliband's departure that no one in the party seems eager to talk about: the attempt to erase any trace of Tony Blair and New Labour from the party moving forward.
The elder Miliband isn't the only New Labour stalwart to move to the backbenches. Nick Brown, Labour's chief whip since Blair led the party to government in 1997, was asked for his resignation. He complied.
Certainly no one in the Labour Party -- especially not the younger Miliband himself -- would admit that the ender Miliband was directly asked (or even subtlely encouraged) to step aside. Yet it certainly doesn't seem unfair to ask the question.
The extent to which Ed Miliband could address such a query may also be in question. He's been dressing up his thoughts on the matter in the language of brotherly love.
"The biggest obstacle for me standing in this contest was the relationship with David, because I thought long and hard about it," the younger Miliband said. "But in the end I concluded that if I had something to say which was distinctive, if I felt I would be the best leader of this party, for me not to stand in those circumstances would actually be an abdication of my responsibility, my responsibility to this party, my responsibility to this country and that is why I stood."
"My love for David is very deep, and his for me is too," he concluded. "It has been a difficult time, obviously, but it will withstand this."
That should be enough to keep any uncomfortable questions at bay -- except from the most daring of questioners.