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David Miliband to stand down as an MP, according to reports

By Peter Hoskin
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We interrupt the football to bring you a breaking news story: according to a report in the Mirror this evening, David Miliband is standing down as an MP. The official announcement will come tomorrow, apparently, at which point Mr Miliband will depart for a job with a charity in New York. The paper gives the charity the supermarionatious name of International Rescue – although, sadly, I think it may actually be the International Rescue Committee.

On balance, this is probably a good thing for Ed Miliband’s reign. Although the resentment between supporters of Ed and supporters of David has simmered down since that fractious leadership contest in 2010, there was still something there. With the elder Milibrother gone, it leaves disgruntled backbenchers with very few realistic suitors for their affections – certainly from the New Labour generation of the party. And means that the younger Miliband can go into the next election without a persistent reminder of the-fratricide-that-went-down-in-2010 lurking in the background.

But David Miliband’s departure does also leave Labour a weaker party. As I’ve pointed out before, he is one of the few prominent Labour figures with actual, fully-formed ideas – and, what’s more, some of them are quite sensible. He has encouraged his party to adopt a more mature attitude towards deficit reduction, as well as preached the creed of the Big Society. He was also behind the Movement for Change, a network of “community organisers” ready to press Labour’s cause at the next election.

And now? A byelection, of course. Although I wouldn’t hold out much hope for a Tory victory in South Shields, where David Miliband and Labour secured a 11,109 majority at the last election.