Ed on David: “It was quite clear to me…that he probably didn’t want to come into the shadow cabinet”
I spent yesterday on the road with Ed Miliband (and community organiser Arnie Graf) travelling to Carlisle and Preston to see some of the work that is moving party reform away from being a dry and dusty topic and into being potentially transformational for the party – more on that over the next few days.
But I also took the opportunity to ask Ed a few questions about his brother stepping down as an MP.
Was he, at least on some level, relieved that the discussion and debate about the two brothers will now come to an end?
“I wouldn’t describe it as that. I suppose I feel at one level, obviously, sad that he’s leaving the country and going to America. I’m going to miss him. And on another level I feel he’s obviously – and it’s been obvious to me over the last few months talking to him about the job – that he feels very excited by it and quite happy to be doing it. And so it’s a mixed sense really. It’s good in the sense that it’s brought clarity.”
“I think to be fair the “soap opera” had died down a lot – it wasn’t like it was a continuing thing – but there was clearly a sense of uncertainty about what he was going to do, and so it’s brought a sense of clarity. So in that sense I think it’s good. For him – and for me – that it sort of came out in the right way. I think there was generosity on all sides of the Labour Party for the contribution he has made.”
But did he try and talk David out of it?
“I think what I tried to do was to say, when I said the door was open for the shadow cabinet, I was serious about that. And I wanted him to feel that there was a choice. At the same time, I didn’t want to try and push him into doing something that he didn’t want to do. And it was quite clear to me from the moment I became leader that he probably didn’t want to come into the shadow cabinet. I thought that might change, but it became increasingly clear to me over the past few months when this opportunity arose – I think he said to me in our second conversation “if I get offered this I’m likely to take it”. So in a way I think the die was cast in terms of what was going to happen if he was offered the job. It was a big opportunity, it speaks to our family history, it suits his talents.”
There will be more on my day on the road with Ed Miliband – including a full interview – over the Easter Weekend.