Saturday, February 04, 2012

The Uselessness of David Miliband

I have always been of the view that, hopeless though Ed Miliband may be, his older brother, David, certainly was not deserving of the Labour leadership himself. He twice bottled the chance to pursue the leadership when it meant challenging the collapsing Brown regime, and seemed to think it was his by divine right when he did finally manage to stand. In the Telegraph yesterday Matthew Norman deploys his journalistic skills to comprehensively demolish any thought that Miliband senior is some kind of eminence grise of the left. On the tactic of making would-be challenging noises and then running away, Norman writes:

"This week, Milibandroid the Elder has mostly been playing Knock Down Ginger, and the sense of déjà vu is overwhelming. It never varies. He charges up to the door and boldly rings the bell, but at the first sound of footsteps from within, he scuttles away and hides in the bushes sucking his thumb.

The pattern was set in the summer of 2008, when David wrote a barely coded article in the Guardian – well, it wouldn’t have taxed the folk at Bletchley Park – justly lacerating Gordon Brown. The moment it was greeted as the challenge to the PM’s authority that it certainly was, off he scarpered, denying any such intent.

Within a year, his close friend and Cabinet ally James Purnell resigned, laying the ground for David to oust Mr Brown by doing the same. Again he bottled it, and stayed. Now, the former foreign secretary has exposed that giant, banana-coloured streak for a third time, by way of an article in the New Statesman, and his response to the reaction it inevitably provoked. "

Norman goes on to demolish Miliband's current article for the New Statesman. This is really David Miliband's defence of the New Labour project against Roy Hattersley, who wrote of a need to return to social democracy in the pages of Political Quarterly. Actually, the real problem of Miliband's article, in which he praises his brother's leadership on three separate occasions - just so we're clear - is that it doesn't really say anything at all. It's as woolly and all-embracing as some of Blair's finest speeches without ever striking out in a clear, coherent direction of its own. If this really is the best that the heir to New Labour can produce, then the whole project is as dead in the water as David Miliband's leadership hopes always were.

NB - There is a robust defence of social democracy by Dr. Kevin Hickson on the Fabian Society blog here.

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