Toby Helms writes in today’s Telegraph that Miliband may throw his brain in the ring for the deputy leadership. A second glance, however, reveals that he has clearly not heard this from Miliband himself but is reporting the thoughts of other figures.
Apparently some Blairite ministers and apparatchiks are after a “stop Jon Cruddas” candidate, with Cruddas apparently viewed as a dangerous and credible opponent of the Blairites’ public services agenda.
Blair himself is reported, both by Helms and elsewhere, to be enthusiastically backing Benn but some of his key allies are unsure if he can get sufficient parliamentary support, while the Brown camp is reluctant to be lumbered with a Blairite outrider.
There seems to be a school of thought that Miliband is a figure better able to unite the Blair and Brown camps and win as a “New Labour” champion.
However, this is probably a case of certain Blairite spinners flying a kite in the media to see if it stays airborne. Blair himself is happy to throw his weight behind Hilary Benn and Miliband sounds reluctant to bear the Blairite flame instead, fearing that such antics, far from uniting the party, will exacerbate divisions instead.
Nonetheless, when even the Praetorian Guard in No 10 are going off message, we do feel that the last days of the Blair Empire are here.