Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Will Milliband head for Europe?

One interesting impact of the Czech signature on the Lisbon Treaty will be the future of David Milliband. The possibility he will be the new European 'Foreign Secretary' throws up the need for a by-election in South Shields, just down the road from us in Gateshead (what a joyous early Xmas present that would be - not). It's enough to make any political activist wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat!

The second and arguably more serious point is about Labour itself. No doubt (and despite the portestations of non-interest in the post) Milliband will have considered future prospects. Let's assume a poor result for Labour at the general election. Brown resigns as Leader. But what state will Labour be in? It could be that they will be out of power for a considerable time. The new Leader could spend many years in opposition. Would someone like Milliband, who enjoys the reins of power, really want the job of rebuilding Labour in opposition with prospects of power not being strong? I'm not sure he does. The European Foreign Secretary position could be a tempting post, striding the world stage and giving him the stature he craves and the influence he clearly enjoys exercising.

Or maybe rebuilding Labour is a challenge he wants to take on. But there again, to become Labour Leader, he needs to win a leadership election and I'm not convinced he could pull it off, especially with his Blairite baggage.

This is of course all speculation. Labour have not yet lost the election but it will be interesting to see which way he goes. And were Milliband to opt for Europe, it would suggest that at the very heart of government, the writing on the wall is being read.
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