Charles Clarke and Alan Milburn today launch their so called policy debate. This is a smokescreen for a fairly obvious attempt to promote a Blairite, anti Brown candidate. Although Charles Clarke and Alan Milburn have at different times dearly hoped that either one of them would be seen as this candidate, those around them know that there is no support for either of them in Parliament and even less in the Labour and Trade Union movement. So the last remnants of Blairites are desperate for Miliband to stand as the last standing standard bearer of Blairism.
Understandably David Miliband is seen as natural successor to Blair because he was Blair's head of policy in Number 10 responsible for the back room development of the policy programme implemented by New Labour over the last decade. Parachuted into a safe seat by the New Labour machine, Blair then promoted him into the politically safe yet high profile role of environment secretary and given the warm, positive, uncontentious role of tackling climate change. Some anxieties were expressed when he was seen to be largely one large soundbite and delivering very little but when has this worried the Blairites. Panic also almost broke out when Miliband stumbled in the Commons over the bird flu outbreak.
Nevertheless you have to give Blair his due as a political operator. Positioning Miliband in this way set up the prospect of Miliband being ideally placed if the Brown leadership successsion faltered. Blair has been absolutely desperate to stuff Brown and derermine his own successor. Miliband has been quietly and stealthily promoted particularly amongst trusted members of the media as his natural and privately chosen successor.
Now the polls are running against Brown, exactly as we predicted, the Blairites have launched their pre-emptive coup. This could be the first time in history a coup has been launched against someone not just before he has become a leader but even before he has become a formal candidate for leadership!
My view is straightforward. What are all these people worried about? Why have all this backstairs plotting? Bring on the candidates and let's have an open debate on the future of the Labour Party, the Government and the country.
There is no difference in substance between Brown and Miliband or Clarke or Milburn. They have all developed, promoted and voted for the same policies for ten years. They are the policies which have lead us to our lowest standing in the polls for nearly 20 years and facing the prospect of a majority Tory government.
The attempt to divert the leadership election into personality politics based upon image not substance completely misses the point that it is the effect of New Labour policies in the real world that has undermined support for Labour.
The promotion of Miliband reminds many of us of the time when John Smith died and Tony Blair was promoted as the youthful, leader of the party without anyone knowing what his politics were or the policies he would promote. At least with Miliband we know what his politics are. They are New Labour/Blairite neo con to the core.
So let's have the leadership election and bring on the "big clunking fist" and the "son of Blair" for our grass roots campaign to challenge politically.