Pressure on Miliband to decide on future
Published 08/05/2015 | 03:54
Ed Miliband should consider his position as Labour leader after presiding over a "depressing" performance in the General Election, Jack Straw suggested.
The former Cabinet minister said the party faced "a desperate situation in Scotland and a pretty depressing situation in England and Wales" as David Cameron appeared poised to remain in No 10.
Asked if Mr Miliband would have to resign, he told Sky News: "It is for Mr Miliband to make up his mind about his future.
"My advice to everybody, particularly against what is depressing news, is to take a deep breath, to go to bed and then spend two or three days assessing where we go next.
"What we want to do is make sure, over the next months and years, the Labour Party is in a winning position and has not been set back in the way we were by that first six months (after the 2010 election) which we wasted on internal contemplation."
Miliband himself managed to hold on to his Doncaster North seat with an 11,780 majority, but it will come as cold comfort when his party is suffering humiliation at the polls and his future at the helm looks bleak.
The opposition leader managed to slightly increase the number of votes he secured by 1,071 to 20,708 votes, but even that result was tinged by the fact that nearly half of the voters in his own constituency failed to even vote, with turnout just 55.63%.
Over the course of the six-week election campaign, Labour has appeared confident about its chances of taking power and Mr Miliband started out the day in good spirits as he voted in the local village hall.
But the shock results of an exit poll commissioned by broadcasters that put David Cameron on track to remain in No 10 fuelled speculation over his future at the top of the party.
While Mr Miliband and his wife Justine learned that some of his party's safest seats in Scotland had fallen to the SNP with swings in the region of 30% as they sat in their Doncaster home with the curtains firmly closed, Jack Straw suggested he should consider his position.
The former Cabinet minister said the party faced "a desperate situation in Scotland and a pretty depressing situation in England and Wales".
Asked if Mr Miliband would have to resign, he told Sky News: "It is for Mr Miliband to make up his mind about his future."
But the party leader refused to be drawn on his intentions in the face of dire results, sidestepping questions from reporters when he arrived over whether he would now resign.
Taking to the stage at Doncaster Racecourse for the declaration of the result, Mr Miliband said: "This has clearly been a very disappointing and difficult night for the Labour party.
"We haven't made the gains that we'd wanted in England and Wales and in Scotland we have seen a surge of nationalism overwhelm our party.
"I want to say to dedicated colleagues in Scotland who have lost their seats I'm deeply sorry for what has happened."
He warned that the Prime Minister faces a difficult task to unite the country on the back of a campaign that has seen Scotland pitched against England.
"I believe that what unites us is much, much stronger that what divides us."
Mr Miliband is heading back to London to watch the rest of the results come through.