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Posts tagged with: David Miliband

The runners for the next President of the PES

Poul Nyrup Rasmussen has today announced he is standing down as President of the PES. Over a period that has been one of relative decline for the left across Europe, Poul has been a voice of determination and reason; I’m sad to see him go, especially as he’s miles better than his counterpart at the S&D Group.

So then, who are the possible replacements?

I write this on the basis of no inside information whatsoever. I have just tried to compile a list on the basis of the names and characters who would be eligible. These would have to be former prime ministers, high ranking ministers or Commissioners. Feel free to add more suggestions or comments!

Alfred Gusenbauer (Former Chancellor of Austria)

Since being replace as Chancellor in Vienna, Gusenbauer has been a regular visitor to Brussels, often popping up at events run by FEPS and the Renner Institut. He’s well known in the Brussels circles, although lacks any star quality. He would be a safe but uninspiring option.
Chances: good

Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Former German Foreign Minister)

A big beast without a role since the end of the grand coalition in Germany in 2009, Steinmeier’s political future has been an open question. He would bring gravitas to the role, but does he still harbour a further shot at Germany’s top job in 2013?
Chances: unknown. Would he want it?

Mona Sahlin (Former leader of the Swedish Social Democrats, former government minister in Sweden)

It didn’t work out for Sahlin as leader of the Social Democrats, but she has respect within her party and the Swedish Social Democrats are well connected and trusted within the PES. The PES also has never had a female President.
Chances: medium

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (Outgoing Spanish Prime Minister)

He probably retains more respect at EU level than nationally within Spain. The most recent Social Democratic Prime Minister of a large EU country. However he backed Barroso for Commission President in 2009 – has everyone forgotten that?
Chances: low. Probably too soon for him.

David Miliband (Former Foreign Secretary in the UK)

Whenever there’s a top EU job available, David Miliband’s name always crops up. Probably the only Brit with the skills, respect and experience to take the job. But would he want it? What are his plans? No-one really seems to know except the man himself.
Chances: if he wants it then the job could well be his

Other possible names: Anna Diamantopoulou, Josep Borrell, José Sócrates?

(All images CC License from Wikipedia: Gusenbauer | Steinmeier | Sahlin | Zapatero | Miliband)

David Miliband and the 50p falafel

David Miliband eating falafel - click to enlarge image
Summer is silly season in politics, and I’m doing my best to prove this blog isn’t immune to that, with the second odd David Miliband story in two days. Yesterday’s was about Syria and politics and today’s is about… falafel.

I was in Amman, Jordan last week, and one of the popular places to get a falafel is a small stall on Rainbow Street called Al-Quds. Alongside pictures of famous locals eating the 0.6JD falafel (about 50p) is one of none other than David Miliband eating there. This is about the most basic place to eat on this street – there are just a couple of benches outside where you can sit and chat to the locals. Smart it most definitely is not!

The framed newspaper clipping on the wall of Al-Quds is shown above. A translation of the Arabic text would be most welcome!

Danish MP proposes new role for David Miliband – special envoy to Syria

This is a bit of an odd one, but the source is an interesting (and controversial) Danish politician – Naser Khader. Khader has represented three different parties in the Danish Parliament, and now represents the Conservative People’s Party, the party of Denmark’s foreign minister Lene Espersen.

On his blog on the website of the Danish newspaper Berlingske he states:

Men jeg mener, at EU og især EU’s udenrigs Cathrine Asthon har svigtet. Derfor foreslår jeg, at EU udpeger en særlig Syrien-udsending, hvis ansvar det er at holde øje med regimet, og at det bliver David Milliband, Englands tidligere udenrigsminister.

Translated this means:

But I believe that the EU and especially the EU’s foreign Cathrine Asthon have failed. Therefore I propose that the EU appoints a special envoy Syria, whose responsibility it is to keep an eye on the regime, and that it will be David Miliband, Britain’s former foreign minister.

Khader’s mother is Syrian, and the suggestion is put forward in a blog entry written while Khader is travelling in Syria. How Khader has come up with this idea I don’t know, and all countries are struggling to work out what to do about Syria, so Ashton’s ineffectiveness does not stand out for me.

Anyway, it’s an interesting suggestion and – in English anyway – you heard it here first!

Photo: Nick Leonard “Damascus” March 2003 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

Miliband explains all the problems of the European left – now time for solutions

David Miliband set out his concerns about the predicament of the European left in a speech at LSE this evening. The full text of his speech is available at Labourlist here, and Next Left has a little post from earlier here.

As you would expect from the elder Miliband, the speech is full of references to thinkers in Labour’s past and a compassionate understanding of some of Europe’s main centre left parties. The headline fact is that at no time since World War I has the left not been in power in the UK, Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy and Sweden, and Miliband sums up the predicament this way:

Left parties are losing elections more comprehensively than ever before. They are losing from government and from opposition; they are losing in majoritarian systems and PR systems; just for good measure they are losing whatever position the party had on the Iraq war; and they are fragmenting at just the time the right is uniting.

It’s from this point on that it’s possible to examine Miliband’s words, and also try to propose some first hints of ways forward.

Continue Reading

Some thoughts on the Diane Abbott – David Miliband leadership result

Political Betting has raised the issue of whether David Miliband’s decision to get Diane Abbott onto the ballot paper in the end costed him the leadership. The line is that Abbott being on the ballot motivated more on the left of the party and affiliated organisations to cast their ballots, and votes from Abbott redistributed to Ed Miliband rather than David*.

If you take the numbers in exclusion from the entire 4 months of the election process then the Political Betting point might hold true.

But it’s not just about numbers.

Abbott’s presence on the ballot allowed all candidates the space to focus on policy issues during the campaign – to talk about the economy, jobs, the environment, housing etc. Had Abbott not been on the ballot then much of the discussion would have been about the lack of diversity in the Labour Party as all the candidates would have been forty-something white males without her on the ballot.

Whether a policy focus, rather than a (lack of) diversity focus was to the benefit of Ed or David I cannot judge, but for the sake of the future of the Labour Party and the future representation of women and ethnic minorities, Diane’s place on the ballot paper was vital, and David deserves credit for having allowed that to happen.

* – for the record I voted Abbott, Miliband D, Miliband E, Balls, Burnham

Where we could have been this evening – Lamy/Freiberga/Miliband


I try to see the positives where I can, but I am really struggling this evening. Who actually wanted Barroso, Van Rompuy and Ashton to be running the European Union? It all strikes me as the lowest common denominator of the worst sort. As @kosmopolit pointed out on Twitter, the three of them – together with EP President Buzek – tick all the boxes: north-south, male-female, left right etc. The problem is the boxes they don’t tick! Leadership, inspiration, relevant experience.

If everyone had played things differently we could have had a team that would have ticked all the boxes – including leadership, inspiration, relevant experience… Pascal Lamy as President of the Commission, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga as President of the European Council, and David Miliband as High Representative.

But it was not to be. We have a vacuous lump of lard as Commission President, an unknown Belgian opposed to Turkish membership of the EU as President of the European Council, and Baroness Ashton as High Rep, competent but rather uninspiring.

I am really not impressed.

Photo credits, Creative Commons Licenses: Miliband | Freiberga | Lamy | Barroso | Van Rompuy | Ashton

In the postmodern putsch you have to move the victim somewhere – so where for Brown?

Gordon Brown at the World Economic Forum - CC / Flickr

Gordon Brown at the World Economic Forum - CC / Flickr

If you don’t like a politician what do you do with him or her? International organisations are always an option. Could this work for Labour and Gordon Brown?

Let me explain.

Brussels is full of national politicians who no longer had a role in their national capitals; Neil Kinnock was a Commissioner when he reached the end of the road in the UK. Barroso is kept in Brussels precisely because the Portuguese government doesn’t want him back home.

The same applies in other international bodies – Sarko favoured socialist Dominique Strauss-Kahn for the IMF to remove a potent enemy from the French political system. Pascal Lamy is equally out of harm’s way in the WTO.

Yet all of the focus in the UK about the future of Gordon Brown has been not about the Prime Minister himself and the debate has almost uniquely focused on whether there is enough discontent in the cabinet to depose him. I think it’s high time to think of options for a smooth transition out of power for Brown – essentially to find some other role he could be ushered into, something that would make the ending of his time as PM look less like a disaster.

Brown is not liked in Brussels, and he doesn’t really like Brussels either. So an EU role is not a way out. But apparently Brown’s moral compass is locked on international issues and development, so could a role be found for him in the IMF, World Bank or maybe even the WTO or the UN? Lamy, Strauss-Kahn and Zoellick are not up for reselection any time soon as far as I can tell, and it’s not clear whether there could be any sort of UN role. But some creative thinking needs to be done in this regard. If Brown were not condemned to the political wilderness (and even managed a role of greater repute than the king’s in the middle east) then surely the job of Mandelson, Johnson and Miliband would become so much easier?

(Thanks to Andy Carling for the inspiration for this post, over a beer in Brussels this evening)