David Miliband stands in front of the ‘one nation’ banners that proclaim his brother Ed’s strategy for Labour. He is in the political spotlight for one last time to thank his supporters, before leaving for a new career in New York. Ed’s speech at the Labour Party conference in September which launched ‘one nation’ has been lauded by the press, not for its content, but because he had spoken without notes for almost an hour. David could easily match that performance but with an intellectual content and vision that his younger brother can only strive to emulate.
‘We need to get a mindset for what we stand for,’ he urges. The implication being that the party does not. There are massive issues at stake. There will be a massive fight over the NHS. Every incident will be reported and scrutinised in the press and it will be argued that a universal, free at point of use service, funded by the tax payer does not work. The future of education, the future of Europe, Britain’s role in the world and its foreign policy must all be addressed. The rise of UKIP is about a reaction to tribal party politics not Europe. It will change the nature of politics in an interesting way. He welcomes the change.
‘There’s almost more at stake than beating the Tories, we are fighting for a western economy to provide a better standard of living for the next generations.’ As David fires into the ‘callous, incompetent, backward looking government,’ we know we are listening to the man who should have been the next prime minister. Joking that it is always good to anticipate the awkward questions by answering them first, a lesson young politicians should take on board, he explains that this soap opera – caused by the media attention which hovers constantly over any interaction between him and Ed ‘is damaging me and the party, but it takes a lot to persuade me to leave my profession.’
He believes in his new job, an organisation founded by Albert Einstein to help those who were refugees from Nazi persecution, people like his parents. He reveals that he was astonished to learn that every 1.4 seconds there is a new refugee in the world, even though historians say there are fewer wars today than ever before. This conundrum requires new ideas and an intellectual engagement that he can bring to the fore. It’s a challenge he is ready to embrace to make a difference to people’s lives.