Chris Moncrieff: Don’t bet on David Miliband leading a new Centrist Party to success

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David Miliband, who was famously beaten by his brother Ed for the Labour Party leadership, is, I understand, being seriously considered as the ideal person to head up a proposed new Centrist Party, which many people would like to see established in this country.

Recent reports have suggested Labour MPs involved in talks about potentially setting up such a new party are hopeful that he could make his political comeback in the near future, ahead of Brexit deadline date of March 29, when the UK is due to leave the European Union.

David Miliband is rumoured to be considering a return to politics.

David Miliband is rumoured to be considering a return to politics.

But you would need to be someone with superhuman persuasive powers to lure him back to these shores. For Miliband is in New York running the International Rescue Committee, a US charity, at an eye-watering salary of £680,000.

You do not give up that kind of money in a hurry.

And anyway, it defeats me how on earth a salary of those gargantuan proportions for one individual can be equated with a charity.

But that aside, the idea of a new Centrist Party is easy to talk about, but a lot less easy to achieve.

Remember the SNP of the early-1980s, with its famous Gang of Four leadership?

It started with a great fanfare, but within months was flat on its back, and soon crawling into the arms of the old Liberal Party which itself, as the Liberal Democrats, is a fading shadow of its former glory.

If ever a new party did see the light of day, I would not risk a penny of my life savings on its longevity.

Nor, I am sure, would Miliband himself risk even a small fraction of his.

DEMANDS are afoot for a comprehensive cull of the House of Lords. And I should think so, too.

Its membership has been allowed to swell almost uncontrollably and now, with some 800 Members, it is far larger than the elected Chamber, the House of Commons.

Like the knees of many of their venerable Lordships, the House is beginning to creak like the Ark Royal.

Some of its newer members seem to believe that the main object of the place is to inflict defeats on the elected Chamber.

That is, of course, nonsense. The elected Commons must be allowed to get its legislation through.

The Lords is simply a revising and improvements body.

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee want to see the membership slashed by 200 and then capped at 600, which is a pretty generous offer.

At the moment, the Lords is like Oxford Circus underground station in London at the height of the rush-hour: On top of that many of them make no contribution to the place, and even if they wanted to, there are not enough hours in the day for this to happen.

I hope someone is listening, but I 
doubt it.

Every time anyone tries to reform the Upper Chamber it seems to end in calamity and chaos.

But simply to put a few hundred of them out to grass should not be beyond the wit of those who want to see the House of Lords a manageable and useful institution.

THERESA May called in aid her cricketing hero Geoffrey Boycott when she was asked how she was coping with all the brickbats that were being hurled at her over Brexit.

She replied to the effect that Boycott always stuck to his guns and remained at the crease, and the required runs always eventually came.

But no mention was made of the fact that Boycott was not always regarded as a good team man by his fellow players.

Once in the second Test match against New Zealand at Christchurch in 1978, England desperately required quick runs.

But Boycott was at the crease, batting in his impeccable but infuriatingly funereal way much to the frustration of his colleagues.

So when Ian Botham went out to bat, he was under instructions to run Boycott out – which he successfully did.

Relations between the two players were at sub-zero level for ages after that.

The Prime Minister may have been right to say that Boycott would stick to the crease until Kingdom Come.

But she did not appreciate that when Boycott got the required runs it was often not until Kingdom Gone.