David Miliband has given an FT interview. Obviously pitching his usual will he?/won’t he? return to UK politics, he says:
“Tony Blair and John Major have said that they wish they’d done their post-premiership jobs before they became prime minister.” And; “I have this residual faith in the common sense of the British people that generally they don’t do stupid things. And it would be unbelievably stupid to walk out of the European Union.”
On cue, and clearly as planned, the papers are speculating that D Miliband is staking out a claim to lead the pro-EU effort in a putative referendum. But, er, “walking out of the European Union” will only be an issue if Labour loses, right? So behind the guff about being “passionately”committed to Ed winning, David’s already planning for Ed’s defeat. Note in particular precisely how he replies to the question; “Who do you think is going to win next year’s election?” (4th last para).
Unlike Ed, David has never attained a single office, from researcher to MP to Foreign Secretary, without being simply the vessel of patronage. He blew his only chance of independent achievement by lacking bottle then losing what seemed an unassailable lead over his brother. The latter happened not because of the unions (their broad support for Ed was always a ‘discounted given’) but because he just wasn’t equipped to have regular personal conversations with fellow MPs who might otherwise have been perfectly well-disposed towards him. He was found out – being ‘the only Blairite option’ just wasn’t enough. Then after he lost, we were all briefed that becoming Labour leader was some weird kind of birthright which he’d been unfairly done out of – you know, like Esau (titter).
I know the guy wears his brain on his sleeve – the first thing he gets people to tell you is how clever he is. But that’s a bad call right there. There are plenty of clever people in and around politics – and everywhere else. David Cameron’s First is tucked away and to some all the more impressive for it. And, by the way, when you talk to regular folk like they’re dimwits then maybe you’re not so smart after all. Recrudescence, anyone?
But it’s DM’s weird three or four ‘poses for camera’ (captured beautifully by the FT author) which strike me most. Like a guy who was told around 2007; “Hey, weird kid, it turns out that all big Blairites have been killed in the crossfire, so you’re the best we can do now – so I guess the game’s up” and immediately went off on a cheap assertive body-langauge/facial-expression course.
The funny old thing about Ed Miliband is that people discount the ‘wonk’ thing – and beyond that he’s a thoroughly engaging, pleasant bloke who can argue his case very well in person. With David, witness his thoughtless, personally aggrandising and mistimed interview with the FT, it’s kind of the other way around. He’s only marginally less of a wonk yet doesn’t have Ed’s saving graces of personability, self-knowledge and even quiet charm.
So what if David Cameron wins, as David M’s clearly secretly hoping? Should the pro-Europeans send to New York for an embittered, bottler-geek with no personal skills and only a couple of well-worn, rather odd-looking poses, some formulaic lines designed to signify gravitas, to draw on?
Maybe not, eh guys? Maybe not.