Right content, wrong candidate, wrong timing
One of the advantages of blogging on holiday is that you get the time to think (whilst dismantling tents, building sandcastles and accompanying 2 year olds on steam trains) before responding to the latest coded moves in the unfolding political tragedy.
Yesterday, enter stage right David Miliband.
I've read his Guardian article and at face value there is nothing much for someone with my politics to disagree with.
Except that it clearly wasn't cleared by no10, which in the current circumstances is inexcusable. If Miliband didn't realise it would be interpreted as the opening shot in a leadership campaign then he hasn't got the political sense to be in his current job, let alone the top one. If he was aware of how it would be seen then he ought to do the decent thing and resign from the cabinet and call for a leadership election, rather than further destabilise the PM just at the time when people should be rallying round him.
If Miliband is the answer to Labour's travails I'm not quite sure what the question is, because in many ways his faults are the very ones Brown is being attacked for, minus the experience, gravitas and strategic vision:
•Indecision: this is the guy who spent months in 2007 in a 'will he, won't he' game about running for Leader, then ducked it
•Poor communication skills: he was winner of my all time prize for woodenest platform speech for his effort at Spring Conference '06 - simply excruciating, whereas Brown can when necessary deliver a barnstormer. Worse still, the content is usually bland beyond belief. It's the other Miliband brother, Ed, who is the stunningly good communicator.
Miliband clearly has many outstanding qualities: sound politics, competence and intelligence being not the least. But those aren't enough to qualify you as PM and Leader of a major political party. Indeed, academic intelligence as opposed to common sense and low cunning is an over-rated virtue in political leaders - an obvious example being Michael Foot.
I also worry that Miliband has been around quite a while now as a Minister, yet left very little record of concrete achievement. In fact the only policy I can think that I associate him with is the invitation for two-tier councils to go unitary, which split Labour in Durham and Northumberland and contributed to heavy losses in both counties this May. He hasn't had to front any flagship or controversial policies so we just don't know what he'd be like under extreme pressure. All I do know about his ministerial career is that some of his colleagues earlier in his career found him insufferably arrogant.
Finally, I am suspicious of anyone that you can't quite place on the political spectrum, and hasn't engaged with the organised right of the Party, for the simple reason that there is no form guide to how they will behave. I'd be more trusting of a predictable leftie.
Yesterday's Times said only Downing Street itself was trying to avert a leadership contest. Well me too. Where can I sign up for the keep Gordon campaign?
I leave you with the thougts of my partner Linda when asked what we should do if there was a straight fight between Miliband and a hard left candidate "Don't worry, the grown-ups in the Party will never allow that".