Miliband seeks to emulate Obama

David Miliband launched his official leadership campaign website today, vowing to bring Labour together and lead Labour to power.

David Miliband launched his official leadership campaign website today, vowing to bring Labour together and lead Labour to power. The shadow foreign secretary, who has already secured his place on the ballot paper, stressed his campaign experience and spoke of his desire for Labour to re-engage with members of the party, trade unionists and the wider public at the launch in Westminster today.

Echoing President Obama’s “movement for change” rhetoric, Mr Miliband said he hoped the website would be “a place for debate and discussion”, and that supporters would use it as a resource to “build relationships and coalitions for political change”.

He spoke of “devolving power over organising events, word of mouth, spreading information” as the best way not just for his supporters but all Labour supporters to spread the message, and that “by broadening the base” of activists “you are likely to strenghten” the whole structure.

On the leadership race generally, he said “the more the merrier”, and believed Gordon Brown “would have benefited” from a contest – though he stopped short of acceding to John McDonnell’s request for him to advise his supporters to stop nominating him now he’d received sufficient numbers to make the ballot.

Speaking of his experience as one of the first ministers to blog, he said:

“When I was at the ODPM, I would engage in dialogue with some of the commenters, one of them was about shared equity, and I had the same dialogue at the foreign office; let’s be honest, we weren’t re-writing foreign policy because of it, but it was important.

Responding to a question from Left Foot Forward about his own campaigning experience, he recalled:

“I’ve been a member of the party for 27 years, since 1983. I remember first going out campaigning with my dad in Pudsey in the 1974 election.

When further asked about some of the campaigns he’d worked on in his South Shields constituency, he added:

“I’ve been involved with many campaigns in South Shields, we’ve had tenants groups we’ve helped out, we’ve worked with church groups. I have regular all-member meetings in South Shields, to which trade unionists and members of the public can come along.

“It is very important to be open; I’ve never subscribed to the Leninist theory.

Though he has undoubtedly done much to highlight his record as a campaigner and a local activist, his experience is not quite the same as Obama’s, with his history of community organising, even though he has adopted the “movement for change” mantra.

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