Sadiq Khan on Ed Miliband

Sadiq Khan, Campaign Adviser to winner Ed Miliband, talks about a possible difference of opinion on the Iraq issue between the rival Miliband brothers, and the likely outcome for loser David Miliband’s future, and that of the Party itself. Broadcast at 08:35 on Wednesday 29th September 2010 in the Peterborough Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. The interviewer is Paul Stainton.

PS: It’s the morning after the afternoon before. Ed Miliband told the Labour Conference in Manchester that a new generation was in charge of the Labour Party. He said the Party had to learn why they lost five million voters at the last general election. By this afternoon though, his brother David has to decide whether he’s willing to serve in his brother’s Cabinet. Ed though, doesn’t think he’d be damaged if his brother decides to go. (/MUSIC) (TAPE)
EM: I don’t think it would cast a shadow. I think it’s most important that he does the right thing for himself. I know he’ll make a big contribution to politics in the future, either inside the Shadow Cabinet, outside the Shadow Cabinet. And it’s most important he makes the right decision for himself, and his family, a decision that he’s comfortable with. That’s what I’m giving him the space to do.
PS: Ed Miliband. Shadow Transport Secretary Sadiq Khan is with us this morning. Morning Sadiq.
SK: Good morning.
PS: You ran Ed’s campaign, so congratulations. very successful. But it didn’t look great on the podium yesterday did it, when he mentioned the Iraq war, and Harriet Harman had a little clap, and David Mlliband said what?
SK: Well look I mean none of us are surprised that David and Ed disagree on the Iraq war. There were sixty odd hustings over the last three four months, and they disagreed on Iraq.
PS: And David’s got to go, hasn’t he, because he’s obviously not happy. And if the papers are to be believed this morning they are brothers at war.
SK: Well that’s not quite right. I’ve seen them in action. They’re very close. They were very close before the election, during the election, and they’ll be close in the future as well. The point is this, and I think it’s a really important point to make. David has been working really hard for the last four months, and before that as well. He’s obviously disappointed at not being the Leader. He’s got to make a choice. The choice is going to be determined by what’s best for him, his wife and his children, and his family. And we respect that. And he’ll announce today his decision. And whatever he announces, his party loves him, is grateful to him, and will continue to support him.
PS: He looked a bit like a sulky schoolboy yesterday didn’t he? He was a bit pathetic really.
SK: No. Look, I’ve been in and around the brothers, and David’s behaviour from the moment the result was announced has been nothing but gracious. He’s been really helpful. He’s been really close to Ed both before and during the contest. And I think his decision is one where when you’ve been the Foreign Secretary for three years, you are a party in opposition, you’re not the Leader. You’re not (INAUDIBLE) you need to make a choice about whether you want to carry on being a Member of a Shadow Cabinet, or you want to do something different. I think David will make his decision and announce it before five today.
PS: And Ed really can’t afford him to go, can he? He needs his experience, he needs his qualities. But then he can’t afford him to stay either. It’s a tricky position. The last thing you want is somebody briefing from the sidelines. You’ve only got to ask Gordon Brown and Tony Blair haven’t you?
SK: Well look we are a party with lots of excellent MPs in Parliament, lots of excellent Members of the Shadow Cabinet.
PS: Can you afford to lose David Miliband then, the skills that he’s got?
SK: Well if the question is would I rather David Miliband stayed as a member of the Shadow Cabinet the answer is yes of course. The man is hugely talented, rather brilliant. If the question is should David do what’s best for him and his family, I think the answer is yes he should. He should decide what’s best for him and his family. Of course I will be disappointed if he decides not to stay on in the Shadow Cabinet, but we realise that as a party, we’re bigger than any one person.
PS: It’s a euphemism though, isn’t it, best thing for my family? He wanted to be Leader. Surely he still wants to be in front-line politics? He’s just getting out because his brother’s won.
SK: Yes. I think he did want to be the Leader, but I think also, he’s done the Foreign Secretary job, in Government, not in Opposition. He can’t be the Leader. And he’s doing what he wants to do because he thinks it’s best for his family. The important point about yesterday was we unveiled a new Leader, who made a speech. Many in the country, your listeners included, probably haven’t even heard of Ed Miliband. And yesterday was about him setting out who he is, where he’s come from, what he believes in, and where he wants to take the Labour Party. That was step one of the process. What we need to do is earn back the trust and confidence of your listeners, many of whom didn’t vote for us in two thousand and ten, a lot of them who did vote for us in nineteen ninety seven. Why is that? We either can reach the conclusion, we were right in two thousand and ten but the electorate got it wrong, or we should conclude, and we do conclude, the electorate are right and are always right, and something’s gone wrong with the New Labour project. We lost five million voters round the country between nineteen ninety seven and two thousand and ten. What Ed Miliband’s speech was about yesterday, he was saying with humility we recognise lots of great things we did between ninety seven and two thousand and ten, but for goodness sake, we clearly got lots of things wrong. That’s why the voters abandoned us.
PS: He may have the ideas, but has he got the personality to overcome the other parties, and to reach out to the electorate, because I don’t think many were convinced by his performance yesterday. And they’ll give him a bit of time, but he needs to find a personality, doesn’t he?
SK: Well step one is earning back the permission of your listeners and those to be heard. I disagree with you. He’s got a huge amount of personality. What you will see over the next period of time … don’t forget he’s been Leader for seventy two hours. I mean you know other Prime Ministers and other Leaders have the whole of summer to prepare a conference speech, and he did a really good job. All commentators are saying that was a brilliant job, bearing in mind he had seventy two hours to prepare that speech. And what he’s done I hope is drawn a line under some of the bad things about New Labour. And earn your permission simply to be heard. That’s all we ask. We’re in base camp. We’ve got a high mountain to climb. Give him, give us, time, and we will over a period of time earn back your trust and confidence.
PS: Is David going to leave front-line politics?
SK: Well I don’t know. It’s for David to ..
PS: What’s your gut feeling?
SK: I’m keeping my fingers crossed. But I think as an objective observer .. if you’ve done every single job that there is, and you’ve not got the .. you know, you’re not the Leader, you’re in opposition, you’ve got to ask yourself the question what can I offer the Party, bearing in mind I’ve got a family, I’ve got young children, it’s a hard slog back. Do I want to make a decision that I may rue to regret. David will do what’s best for him, his family, and the Party.
PS: Sadiq, thank you for coming on this morning. Shadow Transport Secretary Sadiq Khan, who ran Ed Mlliband’s campaign to be Leader. Full of it this morning, and confident that whatever happens today with David Miliband, he’s confident that Ed Miliband can make a success of being Leader of the Labour Party.