Ed Miliband has thrown his expected hat into the Labour leadership ring, to compete against his brother David, and presumably some further as-yet-to-be-announced contenders. I must confess that Miliband Snr's candidacy leaves me rather cold - he backed out twice from challenging Gordon Brown, thus putting himself in the same unenviable position as Michael Portillo when he failed to challenge John Major. Portillo suffered ever after from being branded a cowardly careerist, before becoming fed up with party politics and leaving the Commons. However, Miliband does have one clear advantage over Portillo - he is still in the House of Commons. While Portillo's later leadership bid, in 2001, was a failure, it is quite possible that had he retained his Enfield seat in the 1997 election he might still have become leader of the Tories after Major, in a leadership election that lacked spark and went ultimately to the relatively untested William Hague.
Ed Miliband announced his candidacy this morning during a lecture sponsored by the Independent and the Fabian Society, and I have to say, listening to him, he sounded as if he would be offering a more dynamic, thoughtful approach. He is a bit dorkish, and his public persona at present is limited (but remember Cameron's was virtually invisible in 2005), but he does seem to have something about him. I'm not sure his older brother really offers a convincing change, other than being a capable and high profile ex-minister with a reasonable media image (banana aside). But this fight has barely started, and we await other candidacies with anticipation. Please stand, Ed Balls. You're the coalition's great hope for the future!