Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.
I think that might be an old chinese proverb, but it was also a line in The Godfather.
And that’s basically my reasoning for keeping Miliband in the cabinet.
David Miliband relegated to the backbenches would be an ideal figurehead for those in the party wanting to get rid of the Prime Minister.
That’s why I think Brown’s aides have got it wrong.
Brown’s best bet is to keep Miliband in the cabinet, thus having some power over him and hoping that the ‘cabinet responsibility’ line will keep him quiet.
After all, didn’t Tony Blair do the exact same thing with Gordon Brown for ten years?
There are many – probably a majority – voices of dissent against Gordon Brown in the Labour Party but crucially they have no focus.
David Miliband on the backbenches would provide that focus.
He would be the ideal stalking horse.
The Labour Party is a party divided in three.
David Miliband represents the Blairites. Along with the likes of James Purnell, the Blairite agenda is pretty much indistinguishable from Conservative policies.
Gordon Brown obviously represents the Brownites. With the likes of his compatriots Douglas Alexander and Des Browne. Admittedly there is not much difference on policy between Blairites and Brownites but at least the Prime Minister is seen as at least being less right-wing than the Blairites.
The left of the Labour Party – probably the remnants of what was the old Labour Party – are struggling for a serious challenger. Harriet Harman is probably the only option available to them and she is hardly Old Labour. Other left wingers such as Jon Cruddas and John McDonnell I doubt would carry enough weight for a serious challenge.
If Miliband was to run against Brown, you could be sure that the left wing of the party would not let him run opposed.
Brown can’t afford to be seen leading a party that’s split three ways. The public never forgave the Conservatives for being so divided on Europe, even though John Major managed to hold the party together for years.
Can Brown do the same? If he doesn’t there is a very real danger that the Labour Party will implode, splitting in two (or three) in the process.
The Prime Minister must keep Miliband in the cabinet for the sake of the party.
Even if it ultimately costs him his job.