Wednesday, 27 March 2013

A political death in New York

News that David Miliband, the former Foreign Secretary and Tony Blair protégé is taking a job away from British politics to run International Rescue Committee in New York (I hope he thanked bill Clinton for the leg-up) ends an interesting chapter in British  politics.

David Miliband was always going to be Blair’s heir – but he lacked the political and personal ambition to grab the prize, on three occasions he blew his chance.  Firstly, in 2007 by not standing against Gordon Brown who was then elected unopposed.  Secondly, in 2010 before the election when we could all see how bad Gordon Brown was as PM, but despite a groundswell of support he bottled it.  And final, in the leadership face off with his younger brother after the 2010 general election.

Peter Oborne writing in the Telegraph is not sad to see him go:

This move to New York signals the final convulsion of the fratricide Ed committed on his more talented brother’s political career.  Who will forget the moment when the five candidates, for the Labour leadership heard the results of their campaign to succeed Gordon Brown.   Ed Miliband was at the centre of a semi-circle of candidates with David standing next to him.  His main rival and the man expected to win.   When the vote went the wrong way the room fell silent as all the losing candidates squirmed with embarrassment for David.  Ed Miliband won by a wafer-thin margin of just 1.3 percentage points, thanks to Trade Union block votes.  I am sure David Miliband is a loss to British politics but he was obviously never cut out for the top job in the Labour Party, much less Prime Minister.  His brother however is a different kettle of fish.

Since being elected leader of his party Ed Miliband has shown himself to be an amazingly adept politician.  Although he patently has no strong views or beliefs he has got Cameron on the run and it’s possible he will win a majority in the 2015 election.  His success is founded on a knack for opportunism.  His approach in opposition has been to stick to a limited script which focusses on painting the Tory Cabinet as group of amateur politicians with enormous private incomes.  His relentless negativity has been successful but he has embellished this campaign against privilege with some master strokes of opportunism.  In no particular order my favourites are:
  1. Presenting himself as pro-Europe but siding with the hard right wing of the Tory party to vote against Cameron’s hard won budget deal
  2. Jumping on the plebgate bandwagon with a hateful zeal
  3. His resounding opposition to the welfare changes that he will have to enforce if he gets into power.  As fellow Labour MP John Crudas says "Simply opposing the cuts without an alternative is no good"
  4. His support for the anti-libertarian 'Hacked off' campaign in the question of Press regulation
  5. And the defence of the indefensible NHS
  6. And of course the fratricide of his brother’s political career.

This mixture a childish class war rhetoric and inspire opportunism is proving to be a popular cocktail, the only question is, will it last?  My bet is that he will jettison the campaign against privilege at some point and focus more on the obvious ineptitude of some government departments.  But we can be sure he won’t lose his touch for bare faced political opportunism – sit back and enjoy a master at work!

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