Clarke: Miliband should stand for leader

Charles Clarke has said environment secretary David Miliband should challenge Gordon Brown for the Labour leadership.

Speaking in an interview with the Independent, the former home secretary said Mr Miliband would be a “good candidate” to succeed Tony Blair as prime minister.

Mr Clarke has long been an advocate of a more open leadership contest, and a fortnight ago emailed all Labour MPs and peers urging them to help “move the debate forward” on the future of the party and government.

“After ten years in office we will need to demonstrate that we have the vision and the policies to successfully meet the future challenges faced by our country and the wider world,” he wrote in a joint email with Alan Milburn.

Mr Miliband has so far ruled himself out as a candidate for the Labour leadership when Mr Blair steps down later this year, but it is not the first time he has been called on to stand against bookies’ favourite Gordon Brown.

Senior Labour MP and former minister Frank Field backed the environment secretary for the leadership in February.

He questioned who in the party best “shouts at the electorate” that New Labour has moved on.

“Will that be best achieved by a candidate whose hands have been on the steering wheel for the last decade? Or will it come from the younger generation, in a candidate who is not linked in the public mind with what will soon be seen as stage one of New Labour’s journey? Step forward, David Miliband,” Mr Field wrote in an article for the Guardian.

Today Mr Clarke said Mr Miliband would be “a good candidate and a good prime minister”, adding: “Unlike David Cameron, he’s got good ministerial experience in a tough spending department.”