‘Your country needs you’ - pals call for former South Shields MP David Miliband to save crisis-hit Labour Party

Former foreign secretary David Miliband
Former foreign secretary David Miliband

Nine out of ten of David Miliband’s former constituents believe he is the man to lead the Labour Party out of its current crisis.

The Gazette poll follows friends of the former South Shields MP backing calls for him to end his political exile.

He has the ability to unify the party.

Richard Ord

Current leader Jeremy Corbyn faces a battle to cling onto power in the face of dissenting MPs and mass resignations from his Shadow Cabinet in the fall-out from the EU Referendum vote.

Over 500 Gazette readers who took part in our online poll - and 90% of those who voted say he is the man to save Labour.

Over half of Mr Corbyn’s shadow cabinet have already walked out as part of a mass revolt against his stewardship of the party after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

Many Labour MPs say Mr Corbyn, who was swept to power in an against-the-odds victory last September, didn’t do enough during a hard-fought campaign to convince Labour supporters to keep faith with the EU.

Now friends of David Miliband in the town he served as MP say he could revitalise the party as leader - and insist Britain could have avoided a Brexit blow if he was already in the hotseat.

Mr Miliband was hotly-tipped to be a future Labour leader - and British Prime Minister - before he quit politics for an international charity role in America.

Mr Miliband swapped South Shields for New York after an 11-year stint as MP in 2013 - more than two years after he lost out on the reigns of the party to his brother Ed.

But Ray Spencer, executive director of the Customs House, South Shields, says it would be ‘wonderful’ to see Mr Miliband back in frontline politics.

He said: “I think it would be a wonderful thing to see David come back to give a bit of leadership to the country and to the Labour Party.

“He is a man of high intellect and of great vision, who always impressed when in South Shields.

“I would love to see him back in the UK.

“If David had already been in power the referendum could’ve been a completely different result.”

Mr Miliband still has a home in the town and continues to host his annual South Shields Lecture, bringing a string of star names with him.

The former Foreign Secretary already has supporters in high places - with business magnate and Apprentice star Lord Sugar urging him to be hired.

Lord Sugar, who was a member of the Labour Party until its defeat at the 2015 general election, Tweeted: “Bring back David Miliband.”

In subsequent Tweets, he added: “1/2 Labour shadow cabinet may resign. Corbyn won’t walk. Labour stuck with him. Mistake made in 2010. David Miliband should have been leader.”

Richard Ord, boss of Colmans Fish and Chips in Ocean Road, South Shields, says a Labour Party comeback for one of his most famous customers could ‘unify’ a party in turmoil.

The restaurant remains a regular haunt for Mr Miliband on his returns to the borough, with his wife and children only paying a visit just last week.

Mr Ord said: “I think it would be a huge boost if David came back to politics, without a doubt.

“The Labour Party is in disarray at the moment. David would be a steadying influence.

“He has the ability to unify the party.

“He is a very well-respected politician and the party could certainly do with David returning. He would make an excellent leader.”

While Mr Ord has no doubts the former MP would be a big success if he took a break from the boardroom to head to the despatch box, he says the issue is whether he wants to return.

Mr Ord added; “The big question now is whether he will want to come back. He has got such a high-profile job, which he is enjoying.

“He is doing an excellent job in New York. But he has never severed his ties with South Shields.

“He was an excellent MP. Louise, his wife, was just here at the restaurant on Sunday.”