UK Politics

David Miliband: Reaction to decision

Labour MP and former shadow foreign secretary David Miliband has decided to move to the backbench instead of bid for a place in his brother's shadow cabinet. His decision, announced four days after Ed Miliband was elected Labour leader, has prompted reaction from political colleagues.

Labour leader Ed Miliband

While it would obviously have been fantastic for me to have him serving in my shadow cabinet, I think he has made a thoughtful and gracious decision. Thoughtful for his family and the time he can have with them. And gracious in terms of the future of our party. He is my brother. And I am very clear that as leader of this party my door is always open for him to serve in the future, either in opposition or back in government.

Alan Donnelly, chairman of South Shields Constituency Labour Party

In a letter to David Miliband: Ed and Labour's new parliamentary team must be free to focus all of their attention on challenging the coalition Government, and as you have recognised, your membership of the shadow cabinet at this time would simply act as a distraction.

In withdrawing from the shadow cabinet elections today you are demonstrating a courageous and selfless act of leadership which, although very sad, I support completely.

Shadow home secretary Alan Johnson

David has made his decision in the interests of his brother and the Labour party. To remain in the shadow cabinet would invite constant scrutiny of their relationship and endless discussion of every nuance, however trivial. This decision will make it easier for Ed to flourish as leader, whilst allowing David to pursue other political interests as well as working tirelessly for his South Shields constituents.

Labour frontbencher Tessa Jowell

[David Miliband] has done the right thing for himself, and for his family, and he has definitely done the right thing for the party. This has now given his brother Ed the space to run the party.

Sadiq Khan, MP and Ed Miliband's leadership campaign manager

We're all disappointed that David's not standing for the shadow cabinet. He's a very, very talented person. He's given a huge amount to the Labour party all of his adult life, even as a boy. We're disappointed clearly he's not standing but I can tell you this: David will still be a huge asset to the party. I'm sure he'll be invaluable to Ed as he grows as our new leader.

Former justice secretary Jack Straw

If David had taken Trappist vows of silence or, alternatively, said the only thing he would ever say in public or in private was exactly what his brother had said, then there would still be a story from this because that's the media we live with - I'm not complaining about that, it's like the weather.

And I think David was absolutely right in two respects. In terms of the substance of his decision. But also to take time over it, because my instinct on Saturday when the result came out was, well, I hope David will stay.

But as the days went on I thought if I was in his position, if it was my younger brother, if I had a younger brother, the complications - no matter how much you love your brother - the complications and the continuing soap opera would be such that the sensible thing to do is what David has done.

Shadow Welsh secretary Peter Hain

The good thing is after recharging his batteries, he's left open that he might come back, like [Conservative MP] William Hague did after his sabbatical.

Lord Kinnock, former Labour leader

He's demonstrated that he's given long and deep thought to the alternatives that exist, and he's come to a conclusion which he thinks serves the best interests of the Labour party. I might diverge from that, I think that he's needed in the front line, but nevertheless, I do respect and understand his judgement.

Lord Prescott, former Labour deputy leader

I'm sure that all party members will agree with me that David has given great service not only to Labour but also to his country. We all owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for the massive contribution he made making Labour electable again and changing Britain into a better and fairer place. He helped create a record that we can be proud of and I respect the fact that during the leadership campaign he chose to defend it. Let's give David at this difficult time the chance to continue that contribution as a backbencher and constituency MP and allow him the opportunity to spend more time with his wife and children.

Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi

David Miliband was a leading architect of New Labour. The fact that he doesn't want a place in Ed Miliband's shadow cabinet speaks volumes about the direction in which the new leader is taking Labour.

After being elected by the unions, this is further evidence that Ed Miliband is vacating the centre ground of British politics.

Former Labour home secretary David Blunkett

I believe that David Miliband is a man of honour. He has made the right decision for himself, his party and his brother. I promise him that it is possible to make a contribution outside cabinet and shadow cabinet, to still be heard where it matters and to think the unthinkable. I look forward to working with him from the backbenches in that role.