At least it wasn't David

Edward Pearce

There is at least one reason to welcome Ed Miliband's victory: his brother didn't win. David may be both intelligent and rather nice – I remember having fish and chips with him during a Brighton conference pre-97 – but he is by training a follower. He has been cherished, favoured, advanced and made grateful. He is a professional protégé, the candidate of a leader and of the leader's faction. Gratitude would have paralysed him in the future as it did when he voted for the Iraq war, recited its sad rationalisations and, at the FO, followed the Bush line as Blair followed it. He is a man in a conga, a good trooper, not the man to challenge the unrelenting coalition mantra that Labour and Brown are the chief begetters of the deficit, as they are not. Blair deferred to City assumptions. David Miliband deferred to Blair. Since in politics deference is death, one applauds the victory of Not-David.


  • 27 September 2010 at 9:00am
    A.J.P. Crown says:
    "His brother doesn't have any leadership qualities" isn't much of a reason to vote Labour.

  • 27 September 2010 at 10:45am
    alex says:
    He is a man in a conger? How did that happen? But maybe you mean 'conga'.

    • 27 September 2010 at 11:08am
      A.J.P. Crown says: @ alex
      Ha, ha.

    • 27 September 2010 at 1:02pm
      Somebody, somewhere, has spent more time fishing than dancing.

    • 27 September 2010 at 2:10pm
      alex says: @ pinhut
      maybe it was a subtle allusion to his slipperiness.

  • 27 September 2010 at 12:17pm
    pinhut says:
    I find it deeply worrying that a man over whom credible allegations of being complicit in the torture of UK citizens hang, was even able to take part in this leadership race, nevermind run it so close.

    David Miliband performed some shameful manouevres to suggest that disclosure of documents would imperil intelligence-sharing with the US. It later emerged that the Foreign Office itself may have been behind the US request to suggest such a consequence, and all for what? To deny British citizens the right to have their torture disclosed.

    But, somehow, in a parallel universe, none of this matters, it's time to 'move on', and instead David Miliband pursues the leadership of the Labour Party and nobody thinks to ask him at every turn, about a rather serious matter.

    And now we're on to the 'new beginning' thing, though sensibly, nobody dares to use the H-word, and the party that presided over 13 years of implementing (largely) Tory policies, along with joining in two disastrous military campaigns (with no practicable end in sight) marches on, somehow now needing to 'reconnect' with voters, to deliver the good news of their message! In a media landscape where 'courting the left' to become Labour leader is being denounced as if we're witnessing the Second Coming of Mao Zhedong. (Brings to mind the glorious Onion story about an African president courting the black vote.)

    On we go to the personality-plane of PMQs, while the unwelcome psychodrama of The Brothers will be newspaper fodder also, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

    • 27 September 2010 at 1:21pm
      Joshua Mostafa says: @ pinhut
      Hear hear. "You've punished us enough about Iraq" was David Milliband's attitude - despite the fact that the principals all have their liberty, when they should be behind bars for the rest of their lives - they hadn't even lost an election (at the time of the quote).

  • 27 September 2010 at 1:54pm
    Geoff Roberts says:
    Like the 'credible allegations', Pinhut, especially as they 'hang' over him. Nice touch. Isn't this all a Lunchtime o'Booze story? Judging from a quick survey of your readers (those who responded to the last J. Diski post at least) would any of that gang of five actually have the approval of your readers? Would anybody own up to being (a) a member of the labour Party and (b) voting for one of them?

    • 27 September 2010 at 2:13pm
      pinhut says: @ Geoff Roberts
      Personally, I do not vote for those who practise war.

      "How are we to assert the existence of a single world, the indivisible world of all living people, when it is asserted, often by violence, that such a world does not exist?" - Alain Badiou

    • 27 September 2010 at 2:15pm
      pinhut says: @ pinhut
      Miliband's subterfuges were denounced by the High Court. Believe me, I am being generous to him.

    • 27 September 2010 at 2:16pm
      Joe Morison says: @ Geoff Roberts
      Phillippe Sands puts the case against David M in the Guardian.

    • 27 September 2010 at 3:01pm
      A.J.P. Crown says: @ Geoff Roberts
      No, I wouldn't have voted for any of them. During the period that I've been old enough to care about such things, the leaders of the Labour party before Ed Miliband were:
      Hugh Gaitskell
      Harold Wilson
      Jim Callaghan
      Michael Foot
      Neil Kinnock
      John Smith
      Tony Blair
      Gordon Brown

      Apart from Smith, Foot & Kinnock, none of whom was PM, they're a depressing bunch. The first three were all against nuclear disarmament, which was a cornerstone of the party. The worst of them was Callaghan, who said words to the effect that if he had got through his time as PM without doing anything, without rocking the boat, then he was happy. If anything, having a shitty, shifty leader is a Labour tradition; remember Ramsey MacDonald. It's the rest of the party that's good, not the leadership.

    • 27 September 2010 at 3:11pm
      A.J.P. Crown says: @ A.J.P. Crown
      Sort of the opposite of the Tories, where it's the backbenchers & jumble sale organisers who are the really scary ones.

    • 27 September 2010 at 3:11pm
      pinhut says: @ A.J.P. Crown
      I think you left out Margaret Thatcher, who led the party for the last 13 years.

    • 27 September 2010 at 3:12pm
      pinhut says: @ pinhut
      And Murdoch.

    • 27 September 2010 at 3:36pm
      Geoff Roberts says: @ pinhut
      I've just had a look at the Guardian report and a couple of clips from our leader in a talk show. He seems to be a more oily version of Cameron. Or am I being unfair?

    • 27 September 2010 at 3:41pm
      Geoff Roberts says: @ A.J.P. Crown
      Missed Attlee did you? He wasn't too bad, was he? Set up what the rest have tried to wreck for the past fifty years. I'd have voted for Foot any time, but he was too honest to win.

    • 27 September 2010 at 4:23pm
      A.J.P. Crown says: @ Geoff Roberts
      Atlee was okay. Bit before my time.

    • 28 September 2010 at 7:59am
      Joe Morison says: @ A.J.P. Crown
      I thought John Smith was okay and might have made a decent PM. It's an intriguing (but, as always, pointless) counterfactual: what if it had been Al Gore and John Smith who'd had to react to 9/11 - it couldn't have been worse.

  • 27 September 2010 at 3:44pm
    Geoff Roberts says:
    Reading about Milliband makes me glad that I don't live in England - having to choose between Cameron and Milliband! Nightmare. I'd like to start a diatribe about the decline of Socialist Democracy in Europe (nobody since Willy Brandt, Olaf Palme ... you know the rest) but it would only upset your readers, so I won't.

    • 27 September 2010 at 4:29pm
      A.J.P. Crown says: @ Geoff Roberts
      Don't you understand the beauty of the English system? You choose Brown and you get Cameron & Clegg. It's democracy in action.

    • 27 September 2010 at 4:58pm
      Geoff Roberts says: @ A.J.P. Crown
      be thankful that you don't live under the German system, where coalitions are always elected. Now we have the daughter from the North German manse in cahoots with the liberals. The voters have since found out what an awful mistake this was, but that won't do them any good. Merkel is worse than Cameron, and Westerwelle is a lot worse than what's his name.

    • 27 September 2010 at 5:26pm
      Joe Morison says: @ A.J.P. Crown
      The problem isn't so much the system, it's that politics is national and capital international.

    • 27 September 2010 at 6:12pm
      A.J.P. Crown says: @ Geoff Roberts
      I live under a coalition in Norway and it works fine, it depends obviously who's in it.

      When I worked in Germany, in the 90s, in Hamburg, the country was run by Helmut Kohl, but the city was run by the SDP, the social democrats. The latter were all completely bent, so I really don't know who was worse. In a situation like that, no, it doesn't matter who governs, and yes, I am thankful I don't live in Germany.

    • 28 September 2010 at 12:54am
      pinhut says: @ A.J.P. Crown
      Here in Taiwan, we have two main parties, one of whom has its spiritual heart located in China, whose interests run directly counter to here.

      Hmmm, apart from Joe, all of us appear to have fled the UK.

    • 28 September 2010 at 3:48am
      pinhut says: @ Joe Morison
      I agree, Joe, and the answer is local.

    • 28 September 2010 at 7:01am
      A.J.P. Crown says: @ pinhut
      Pin, you might like talking to John Emerson, he's a very funny, quite leftish, polyglot American, who used to live in Taiwan and is very knowledgeable about Asian history.

    • 28 September 2010 at 8:02am
      Joe Morison says: @ pinhut
      I can't imagine wanting to live anywhere other than London.

    • 28 September 2010 at 11:04am
      pinhut says: @ A.J.P. Crown
      Thanks, A J P, duly noted.

  • 27 September 2010 at 5:52pm
    Edward Pearce says:
    Well, everyone has had a nice time abusing each other - very like the web site for my football team. All I was trying to say is that any annointed leaderm left,right or centre, someone whom a previous leader has pushed, promoted and lit-up as the desired.only thinkable successor will be a bad choice. This is because you get such esteeem (and commonly over-rating) by submmission and following.Forget David's opinions or Edward's. I'm just arging against getting Kim-il Blair or Kim -il anybody.

    • 27 September 2010 at 6:19pm
      A.J.P. Crown says: @ Edward Pearce
      Well, the only people I can think of who didn't kiss up to the previous leader are Winston Churchill & Mrs Thatcher, so is that the kind of person you think Labour ought to have chosen?

    • 28 September 2010 at 12:58am
      pinhut says: @ Edward Pearce
      Abuse! I see only discussion.

      "All I was trying to say is that any annointed leaderm left,right or centre,"

      There is no left, right or centre here, so narrow is the spectrum of UK mainstream party politics. The only movement is of this spectrum, and for the last 30 years it has zoomed rightwards.

      "The structure ofthe illusion and its future. The illusion is not to see that it is the state that constructs the fallacious appearance of a political choice on the basis ofthe malleable material formed by public disorientation. Voting is just the operation of this appearance, which today only configures affects of fear. In short, voting is the fictitious figure of a choice, imposed on an essential disorientation." - Alain Badiou, The Meaning of Sarkozy

    • 28 September 2010 at 7:48am
      Geoff Roberts says: @ pinhut
      "You get the politicians you deserve." (Who said that?) There are some very clear differences between the Conservatives with their liberal lobby fodder and the left (if I may use that term). The left all over Europe is trying to 'win back' the voters by offering post-neo-liberalist ideas instead of real left alternatives. Milliband is a prisoner of his own spin merchants, just as, in my view, Blair was. (Campbell, please step forward.) In other words, the leader is an amalgam of what politicians 'think' will work and the projection of this on to the person who best fits the cliche.

    • 28 September 2010 at 7:58am
      pinhut says: @ Geoff Roberts
      They may be clearly distinguished from one another, but that does not make them, fundamentally, different.

  • 28 September 2010 at 7:52am
    Geoff Roberts says:
    If we put Milliband in a room with the other shining lights of the social democratic parties around the world and told them to come up with some good ideas for a more humane, social Europe what would be the outcome? I'd leave Zapatero to run Spain as he seems to be making an effort, but the rest?
    The huge neo-liberal bluff - only capitalism works and bring everybody freedom - has yet to be called.

    • 28 September 2010 at 8:07am
      Joe Morison says: @ Geoff Roberts
      Capitalism, once tamed, could be a great force for good; but it won't be tamed until there are democratically accountable world wide bodies with real teeth. Yes, it's that ultimate bogey man of the swivel eyed right: a world government.

    • 28 September 2010 at 11:01am
      pinhut says: @ Joe Morison
      "Arise, ye workers from your slumber,
      Arise, ye prisoners of want.
      For reason in revolt now thunders,
      and at last ends the age of cant!
      Away with all your superstitions,
      Servile masses, arise, arise!
      We'll change henceforth the old tradition,
      And spurn the dust to win the prize!
      So comrades, come rally,
      And the last fight let us face.
      The Internationale,
      Unites the human race.
      So comrades, come rally,
      And the last fight let us face.
      The Internationale,
      Unites the human race."

    • 28 September 2010 at 12:05pm
      Joe Morison says: @ pinhut
      I need someone to link arms with!

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