Faced with characteristically impatient questioning by John Humphrys this morning, David Miliband said of his brother Ed: “I am happy to say he is the best man to lead Labour into the next election.” The comments, on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, may have been forced by Humphrys’s grilling. But it appears that despite the media speculation about Ed’s performance in recent months, David was right when he added that Ed “will lead Labour into the next election.” That message is echoed by some—limited but illuminating—exclusive private polling among Labour MPs by Prospect.
The only practical threat to Ed’s leadership would be if Labour MPs begin to worry enough about losing their seats at the next general election to move against their leader. We know from his decision to stand against his elder brother that Ed is deceptively ruthless and unlikely to stand down voluntarily. And we know that historically, the Labour party fails to oust its leaders in the brutal way the Conservatives and, lately, the Liberal Democrats do. Instead, Labour takes a curiously sentimental attitude towards under-performing leaders.