So by the narrowest of margins the younger Miliband has won. We can now see how the PM debates will look in 2015.
The 1.3% majority and the fact he was second choice among Labour MPs and members will be a short lived embarrassment for Ed. The bitterness of the Healey – Benn contest in 1981, when I first got seriously involved in politics, is not a factor now.
I can’t say I really know Ed M. He’s from the 2005 intake like me. I served on the Charities Bill Committee with him in 2006. He’d just been made a junior minister and unlike many of his colleagues was polite and considerate towards opposition MPs. We’ve exchanged pleasantries many times since. I hope he will be able to resist a shift to tribalism and aggression and provide constructive opposition to the coalition government. We are in a new era of politics and there is still plenty of scope for Liberal Democrats and Labour to work together in the future. His attitude to the AV referendum on a fairer voting system will be our first indication of his approach.
There is one very disappointing aspect about the new line up of the three main party leaders. They’re all in their early 4os, come from comfortable backgrounds and have virtually no experience of the world outside politics. Each of them say good things about social mobility but collectively they’re a demonstration of how far Britain has to go. My visit to the States over the last fortnight made me think that despite the polluting effect of big money on US politics, it’s still just possible for someone to rise from the “log cabin” to the White House or Governor’s Mansion. Since the departure of Major we’ve gone backwards on this side of the pond…