The night before one of them becomes the Labour Party leader, More 4’s tongue in cheek docu-drama, “Miliband of Brothers” didn’t do either of them any favours, but was an entertaining and illuminating watch. Yes, they were both portrayed as the nerdy middle-class sons of a comfortably off, radical professor who quailed when faced with real rebellion. Yes, it was entertaining to watch the clashes between their well-meaning, utterly divorced socialism and the real world of conflict (there’s not a lot of conflict going on in the left-wing parlours of North London and the glorious isolation of Oxford colleges after all). In terms of character, I suspect the programme makers rather favoured Ed Miliband over his even nerdier brother, giving him a more entertainingly subversive personality with a slightly stronger relationship to planet Earth than that enjoyed by his brother. David’s inability to party or act like “a normal teenager” was played up for a bit of cheap humour, but partying is over-rated and what is a “normal teenager” anyway? Heaven help us if such a boringly homogenous species ever does emerge.
We were reminded of the real political dramas of the polarised 80s, when Margaret Thatcher radicalised the nation and Scargill, Draper, Heffer, Benn and co split the Labour Party and made it ungovernable, waging a continuous war with leader Neil Kinnock. Then along came Blair, and the Milibands’ firm commitment to his final abandonment of anything even approaching socialism. I had forgotten the genuinely fantastic sight of Kinnock, Mandelson and Prescott lip-synching along to “Things Can Only Get Better”. I hadn’t forgotten, because Andrew Rawnsley, one of the programme’s contributors, has always been around to remind us, that the Labour leadership was an utterly poisonous concoction between Blair and Brown. But out of this has arisen the Miliband v Miliband fight for leadership, and tomorrow one of these two slightly bizarre characters will be entrusted with trying to return Labour to power after a rather shorter interval in opposition than the last one. “Miliband of Brothers” may have just served to remind us how strange most of our political leaders are, whether they went to Haverstock comp or Eton. Or, possibly, one day – Sutton Grammar?!