Is Ed Miliband set to become Labour’s William Hague?

Is Ed Miliband set to become Labour’s William Hague?

How serious a contender is he?

There’s lots of talk at the moment about the Labour leadership prospects of Ed Milband (younger brother of the foreign secretary) following supportive comments by Derek Simpson, of the Unite union, and his appearance at the TUC.

The union boss was quoted at the weekend as saying “If I had to name one for the future I pick Ed Miliband. He has potential to be a lot more progressive”.

Ed is still in his 30s and has risen rapidly since becoming an MP at the 2005 general election. He’s the current Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and, unlike David, has been an integral part of Brown Central.

More importantly, as Andrew Grice writes in the Indy today, Ed is “seen as on the party’s soft left, and could be in a strong position to capitalise on a reaction against New Labour that would probably follow an election defeat.”

Assuming that Brown stays until the election and does as badly as the polls suggest then Ed would seem to be well positioned.

But I wonder, like with the choice of the young William Hague as Tory leader after the devastating 1997 defeat, whether he would be the right person? Would he have it within him both to hold an invigorated Tory party to account and to stop Labour from splintering after going down badly?

From what I’ve seen I’m not so sure. He’s certainly not as accomplished a debater as Hague was and you can’t envisage him being able to cope with Cameron at PMQs.

The party will need time to get over what’s likely to happen and an Ed Miliband leadership would probably be too early for him and for the movement. That doesn’t mean that they won’t choose him.

Ladbrokes make him a 9/1 shot while you can get 10/1 at Victor Chandler and PaddyPower. He’s one of my long-shot bets from way back when I got on at 33/1.

Mike Smithson

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