Minigland…staying right here in, um, er….
There is something about the elder one of the Miliband brace that makes one think he should’ve been a software designer. Or rather, to be more exact there are umpteen things about the bloke that would lead one to such a conclusion: the inability to speak plain English, the geeky voice, his confusion about idea and point of idea, the occasional eyebrow knitting to suggest confusion, the insistence that he’s done the right thing by everyone….it’s a long list. I watch him being interviewed and read his speeches, but both remind me of endless hours sitting with pointy-heads in front of an ailing pc trying to explain what I want: the result is exactly the same – one’s request for a solution to the £ sign problem is met with an upgraded version of Wordcount.
So I have every sympathy with the Indie’s John Rentoul, who spent quite a bit of his weekend interviewing the former Foreign Secretary – who is now, of course, the leading contender in a race to inherit the Chancellery Bunker, aka the Labour leadership.
Miliband opened the encounter with the words “I will tell you what I think, very openly and very clearly” in relation to his policy ideas, and the general direction in which he wants the now Second Hand Labour Party to go.
‘Let us be clear about this’ has to be the most done to death precursor of a lie in the history of British politics. But David Miliband still says it, and part of me really does want to believe him: there is a time and place for clarity, and for me it’s right now as quickly as possible please.
“I’ve got a very clear of where I think the country needs to go” he continued – or at least that’s what the IoS printed. Could be there’s a gagmeister in the bowels of the paper, or perhaps a former Guardian proof-reader taken on out of sympathy. Either way, the claim that David has a very clear is particularly apt. For we’re no wiser after the interview what it is that’s clear than we were before. Here’s how The Candidate finished that opener:
“I’ve got a very clear of where I think the country needs to go, and where the party needs to go in order to take the country there”.
It sounds like a grand invasion plan of some kind: we put Britain in Germany, take the Party to Alsace-Lorraine, and then swarm across the Rhine to sort out those useless Frogs and their mediaeval farming system. It sounds good to me, but unfortunately it’s not what Miliband went on to say. What Miliband said was nothing beyond The Future. Forward not Back, as it were -not an entirely original idea (See photo at top). But fair do’s – let’s see how the next Labour leader gets down to the nitty-gritty on the future:
“The case that I’m making is about the argument I am making about the future of the country and how we meet its challenges and how the Labour party is part of the country’s future”.
Now, the bit about wanting the Labour Party to be part of the future I understand completely, because it if isn’t going to be there then Mr Miliband won’t have a job. But his promise to neither abolish nor disband the Party is the sum total of detail we’re given. We just know that DM is arguing the case for the future, and very much in favour of tackling its challenges….as opposed to ignoring them. And this represents, let’s face it, a massive departure from the modus operandi of Blair and Brown.
But where will all this slaying of challenges take place, given that future is a time-based thing of great inexactitude? At this point, the challenger blows away any mists of confusion remaining:
“I have been talking moving on, and I have stuck to talking about moving on.”
You have to accept that there’s logic to all this, because without moving on it’s unlikely Labour MPs would arrive anywhere else. But we still don’t have any details beyond ‘anywhere else’. Maybe that’s what he means: anywhere but here.
We are promised one specific: there will be a big, big shift in Britain’s foreign policy, which must be honest-to-God ethical. David runs us through the bones of this one:
“The alternative to an ethical foreign policy is an unethical foreign policy, and I don’t believe in an unethical foreign policy…you [must] never ever have anything to do with torture. You never do. Under any circumstances. Because it is wrong.”
I wonder what went through Rentoul’s mind when his interviewee made those assertions. Did he, perhaps, worry in case he had turned into a door-jamb without noticing? Faced with a patronising apparatchik explaining the opposite of ethical and the downside of pulling fingernails out, speaking for myself I would’ve feared that I’d transmuted into a cricket bat. And then hit him very hard with myself.
Desperate by now for some kind of substance, Rentoul switched his attention to reassurance. After all, Miliband had just proclaimed a switch away from unethical and very wrong torture, but had – as it happens – been the Foreign Secretary while all that completely unacceptable behaviour was going on.
“Consistency between the private and the public [spoken word] is very important,” David averred. It is indeed chummy – and we all know where you stand on that one: lots of private assurances of wielding the dagger followed by lots of public assurances of unswerving loyalty to Gordon.
“Politics,” the wannabe Leader concluded, “is about action not just press releases.” Correct. And character assessment is about watching what people do rather than what they say.
My next virtual venue after the interview was an Aussie news site, where I read the following: