The Guardian understands that Miliband is keen to take a role in the next Labour team, potentially on the shadow frontbench, once a replacement leader is found. He was previously shadow secretary of state for energy and climate change.
Miliband is still only 46 and has seen the model of Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader who went on to be secretary of state for work and pensions, as one example of how a defeated politician can recover and remain of value to his party.
He had been urged by some of his advisers to stay on longer as party leader to oversee the transition to a successor, but on Friday as the scale of the party’s defeat became clear he thought it was better to allow a clean break to a new regime, and not to try to guide the postmortem personally.
The risk behind his decision to stand aside is that everything he represented will be attacked and it will be open season on his legacy, including contentious arguments that he was opposed to aspiration, personal ambition, or an industrial policy designed to boost productivity and the economy.
The internal row over the decisive defeat in the general election spilled into the open on Sunday after Tony Blair warned that Labour could recover only if it reoccupied the centre ground of British politics, and Blair’s close ally Lord Mandelson said Labour needed once again to champion the aspirational classes.
Miliband is suffering a sense of personal surprise and disappointment because, on the basis of recent polls, he genuinely believed he stood a good chance to become prime minister. He had established a team ready to brief on how Labour could form a government and force Cameron to resign on the basis that he could not pass a Queen’s speech.
Lord Falconer, the former lord chancellor, had spent considerable time briefing reporters and discussing with constitutional experts whether Cameron would be able to hang on in the event of a closer result.
This article was written by Patrick Wintour political editor, for theguardian.com on Sunday 10th May 2015 14.34 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010