Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Law of David Miliband's Unintended Consequences

Last night I did probably the most bizarre paper review I have ever done on Sky News, alongside a comedian who was 70% deaf. We talked a lot about David Miliband and Stephen likened the picture of him emerging from Number Ten on the front page of the Guardian with Joey Barton emerging from jail...

Miliband's article in The Guardian has provoked much speculation about his motivations. Before you read the rest of this blogpost, pop over to CommentIs Free and read the article for yourself. The Times interprets this article as an overt challenge to Gordon Brown. Many other pundits are also drawing similar conclusions. I'm not so sure.

Some time ago, Miliband announced he would be making a series of speeches this summer on what the Labour Party needed to do to win a fourth election. This article, presumably, is part of that initative.

It's also the article that Gordon Brown needed to write but can't. It articulates a vision for the Labour Party which is missing from Brown's narrative. It also critiques the Conservatives in a way which Brown fails to. If I were a Labour Party member reading this, I'd be thinking that it's a pretty compelling piece. But I genuinely do not believe it has the motives which The Times and others are ascribing to it. Miliband believes in a new kind of politics and sees no reason why he shouldn't articulate it. Possibly naive, but there are worse faults in a politician.

However, the side effects are clear. It keeps the Labour leadership story going for another day or two and gives encouragement - however unintended - to those who are looking to topple Gordon Brown.

But I stick to my prediction. It won't happen.

UPDATE: Curly reckons Mr M has a recognition problem in his own contituency.

UPDATE: I have written an article for CommentIsFree warning David Miliband not to underestimate David Cameron.

UPDATE: Dizzy has an extended piece which predicts a long, painful and slow political death for the Prime Minister...
"The electorate should be, I'd say, prepared to watch a very long, slow and painful death for the next two years. It will be like a Grand National horse falling at the first, breaking a leg, refusing to give up, whilst the stewards have a sudden moment of compassion and refuse to put it out its misery as it limps around Aintree."

41 comments:

curly15 said...

It's silly season Iain.
Let's be honest Gordon is the best man for the job, blah, blah, blah.

Nobody else seriously wants it, it's a poisoned chalice.

LMO said...

Adrian Mole as the next Labour leader?What a Pandora's box that would open.

ferret said...

It's an interesting article, even (maybe especially) reading it as a Conservative. We've been given such an easy time for the last 12 months, and I suppose we sometimes forget that. I fear that some of his critique of Cameron is relatively accurate, in fact - splendid though the last couple of years have been.

From a party political point of view, I hope Gordo stays as long as possible. It can only help us win a stonking majority. But for the sake of British politics, really - get Milliband in there ASAP...

Desperate Dan said...

David Miliband is the Michael Portillo of the Labour Party. There's a group of people pushing the idea of Miliband for PM for all its worth. The fact that he's not attractive to the electorate doesn't matter to them any more than it mattered to the Portillo backers. They believe a constant campaign of spin/exposure will win us over. They are very wrong and if Miliband is installed unelected, like Brown, he is capable of doing even more damage to the country.
Like Blair and Brown before him Miliband's calling for change. Well we've seen enough of Labour's ideas for change. Change means nothing if its not allied to progress. All changes made by and proposed by Labour politicians are changes for the worse or change for change's sake. Miliband is already a cringing embarrassment as a Foreign Secretary. The insane proposal that he might be a suitable candidate for PM makes my blood run cold.

Richard Nabavi said...

Come on, Iain, get real. Miliband is not a complete idiot. He must have known what effect this article would have in the current climate.

It is quite a good attack both on Brown and on Cameron. But, interestingly, it has been met with a stream of vitriol in the comments. It looks like we'll have a summer of Labour in-fighting whatever the final outcome is.

airshipman said...

I agree with Richard Nabavi - Milliband would definitely understand the sort of reaction his article would cause.

I didn't think he had the balls for a challenge, but maybe he is beginning to want to leadership more and more as he thinks about it.

He seems to be deluding himself that Labour can win the next election (the subtext being - under him, not Gordon).

The Raven said...

Iain, I disagree with you that this isn't anything to do with a leadership push. However, I don't think it will result in anything. I get the impression Brown won't go without an election or a fatal heart attack.

Also, why are the MSM falling over this as some great visionary article? It's more of the same 'give control back to people' nonsense Labour have been spouting for years, while locking us up for 42 days, telling us where we can send our kids to school, refusing to treat our illnesses if we pay for some of the treatment ourselves, and telling the police to ignore the concerns of local people by focusing on government targets.

He says he doesn't have any idea what David Cameron stands for. Well, after reading this, the only thing I can see David Miliband standing for is the career progression of David Miliband.

trevorsden said...

I am with the majority - Milliband must have known what attention his remarks would collect. If it was just part of a series of speeches he could have expressed support for Brown. But what else would his series of speeches have been but to position himself one way or another within the labour party.

I would not mind but he is useless as Foreign Secretary and displays no evidence of being a potential 'leader' of the nation at all.

Still he comes from good Marxist stock so Hammersmith thinkers and Islington intellectuals must be delighted.

Just how do labour explain the dumping of Brown the other half of the duumvitate which have misgoverned Britain to their universal acclaim for 11 years? What does that tell us about their perspicacity. For 11 years they have cheered Brown to the rafters - do they think we are stupid (no real need for an answer there)?

They only want to dump Brown because the nation has cottoned on to their stupidity. How can they admit to the need for change at this late stage - with a straight face?

Anonymous said...

According to Milliband, David Cameron is ‘a politician of the status quo’. But isn’t that ‘status quo’ the outcome of 10 years of the New Labour administration? Or have I missed something?

Anonymous said...

Excellent picture of him. Does he have an attractive wife and young family to parade about with anytime now?

Anonymous said...

Desperate Dan @ 10:17 AM

"David Miliband is the Michael Portillo of the Labour Party. "

All I can say is that you are MUCH closer to the truth than perhaps you realise.

Go and read very carefully between the lines in Ted Verity's article about him at Oxford in the Mail on Sunday.

http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/news/article-1023284/We-called-Donny-Osmond---How-Oxford-friends-Miliband-saw-man-PM.html

Anonymous said...

>>I stick to my prediction. It won't happen.<<

Nonsense. This is Harriet's moment.

Conand said...

Miliband's critique is completely wrong. Cameron is very radical. Just not in a way that a lefty robot like Miliband could ever understand.

neil craig said...

Since his only policy he puts forward for the future is "We needed a clearer drive towards becoming a low-carbon, energy-efficient economy, not just to tackle climate change but to cut energy bills" not only is global warming (as "climate change" used to be called) not happening but calling for reducing enegy use is, in fact, calling for a steep & endless recession.

Keep talking Miliband. So long as you or Harmen are possible replacements Brown is safe.

iain said...

I had enough of the Mr Bean comparisons, Miliband is clearly Mr Benn from Festive Road

http://www.televisionheaven.co.uk/mrbenn.jpg

Newmania said...

You have got this completely wrong Iain ,of course its a leadership bid.
My eyebrows went Gothic arch shaped , at Polly Toynbee positioning of one significant name on the left of the Labour battlefield yesterday

....“But the other half of his cabinet equally passionately believes they are all doomed unless they adapt to changed times. The Millibands ,Ed Balls, Harriet Harman, Douglas Alexander, John Denham and Yvette Cooper think the post-Blair era of recession needs new policies. These progressives would tax the top 1% ....would windfall tax profiteering energy companies. ...turn more radically green ....pursue tax havens and tax avoiders ... bonus-heavy bankers ....The progressives warn..., Labour will be obliterated.”
So slimy David Millipede is a tax raising Old Labour man and friend of Polly Toynbee .I`m not sure this is the answer to Labour’s woes myself but they know best.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on.` I've met that MIlibund chap, and he was a poor second to a wet fish. I wouldn't vote for him if he was running against Mugabe.

Pete Chown said...

I suppose Miliband is in a difficult position. Conventional wisdom says he should let Labour lose the election, then emerge as the saviour. The trouble is, if he does that, Labour could lose so badly that they're out of office for a generation.

"New Labour won three elections by offering real change, not just in policy but in the way we do politics," says Miliband. That is completely true, I can remember Tony Blair spinning about the Third Way too. Blair was doing exactly what Miliband accuses Cameron of: making feel-good promises that are short on specifics.

"We needed better planning for how to win the peace in Iraq, not just win the war." For me this shows very clearly why Labour is unfit to govern. Nearly a million people have died in Iraq and yet Miliband tries to explain away the disaster with one sentence. When the death toll reaches two million, will he write two sentences?

Martin said...

The only reason Milband is having a go at Cameron is Nu Liebour have run out of policies and need some new ones.

They've stolen every one the Tories have come up with so far and don't even deny it!

canvas said...

David Cameron must be wondering if he should have eased up on Gordon Brown now?!

If David Miliband becomes the new Labour leader then DC will have some serious competition. I really like David Miliband and I like Alan Johnson (both are super brainy and super dishy!). But I don't think anyone can save Labour now...

Gordon Brown sunk the ship.

:)

Anonymous said...

Iain, maybe Milliband was going to talk about how the Labour Party could try to win the next election.

But to write a lengthy piece in The Guardian with no mention of Brown, no pledge of loyalty is highly suspicious at best, if not blatant treachery.

airshipman said...

Cancas I have to take issue - David Miliband 'super dishy'?!

He looks creepy, and that attempt at a moustache is a bit pathetic...

Anonymous said...

"The third way" - the way to ruin.

Brown implodes - at least a general election would give Cameron a chance to make good his promise of a referendum on that blasted EU Treaty.

Anonymous said...

Unelected Brown has made us ALL suffer so what a pleasure it will be to see him suffer as he and his crumbling government self destruct in front of all of us - hope it hurts

canvas said...

airshipman - David Miliband is dishy!! He is as dishy as Ed Vaizey. But in a different way...

An Alan Johnson is quite sexy too - for an older man.

However, Miliband has an amazing brain too. And Johnson has the gift of being persuasive in a reasonable and charming way.

David Cameron is OK - I like him too. But he seems intellectually lightweight when compared to David Miliband. But Cameron is more 'charming' than David Miliband.

Oh what a fun election/contest it would be if David Miliband and Alan Johnson were in the picture! Why does Gordon Brown always have to spoil our fun!?

PS> Harman and Straw would never beat Cameron in a general election.

Martin said...

Liebour are finished. The economy is in the tank, prices and taxes keep going up.

They could elect Jesus Christ and they wouldn't win (OK Gordon think's he's Jesus I know) unless the cut taxes.

You'd have thought that Liebour seeing how people are finding it harder to make ends meet would have seriously cut taxes, cutting back on Guardian reader jobs for example.

But they carry on spending like nothing's changed.

They are bringing about their own downfall. They failed to reform public services over the last 11 years. Are we supposed to belived that out of some 560 billion pounds they can't trim their spending?

5p off income tax and 25p off fuel duty and you will win the next election (or at least be in with a fighting chance)

But Gordon would rather wear an England football shirt than do that.

Anonymous said...

why is he standing on the BEACH in a SUIT??? I thought I was fairly up to speed with this semiotics lark, but the mind truly boggles!

Patrick said...

Unintended consequence - the death of the Lisbon treaty and a '2 speed' EU.

Speculation over Brown will never go away until he goes.

It is my view that we'll get an election alot sooner than many think.

An early entry for Cameron into No 10 would also spell the final death of Lisbon.

You heard it here first.

Roger Thornhill said...

Miliband is no fool. A ghastly, oleaginous creep maybe, but no fool. I don't think he is unaware of his actions, but if these missives were planned then they were planned.

He wants either a fat position high up in the EU "firm" for his treason and/or the top job for the duration, not as a fall guy for a wipeout election. Let Jack and Harpie fight that one out - The Strawman and the Wicked Witch.

PaulD said...

Iain, you say Miliband's article "articulates a vision for the Labour Party which is missing from Brown's narrative."

Have you been over to CiF this afternoon? An extrordinary sight - over 500 comments from the Guardianistas themselves, almost every one seething with hatred for the man's empty words and for NuLab itself.

Don't worry - Janet Daley made the same mistake in the Telegraph of thinking it was an important and constructive piece.

AfricanMum said...

Milliband seems to think Cameron is wrong for the country as he's not too radical. But Cameron's greatest strength is that he appears to be a Conservative of the old school. When people are worried about the broken society and a lack of values, we need someone who won't start smashing things up in the name of change but would reassure us by preserving things we hold dear about this country and our communities.
Milliband was the architect of disastrous Nu Lab policies, and his dad was a Marxist. He makes Brown seem an attractive choice.

Anonymous said...

C4's Krishnan Guru-Muthy is the brother of David Miliband's special advisor, so presumably must be privy to DM's leaderships intentions. Krishnan seems to have a more than usual smug look about him lately when grilling politicos about whether DM is being disloyal. Perhaps he should declare an interest before his interviews ?

canvas said...

Iain Dale says "David Miliband goes on to claim that "the Tories overclaim for what they are against because they don't know what they are for." What a brilliant phrase. It's one Tony Blair would have been proud of."

Actually Barack Obama said this about John McCain.

Every politician seems to be trying to copy Obama at the moment. That's because they know Obama is bloody brilliant.

:)

Anonymous said...

canvas said...

"David Miliband is dishy!!"

We all know where you keep your brain.

Anonymous said...

canvas said...

"That's because they know Obama is bloody brilliant."

No. It's because they know that being fatuous and appealing to 14 year olds with an lower IQ is the only hope they have left.

canvas said...

to the boring anon - I think you will find that many people do think David Miliband is dishy. Just like many people think Ed Vaizey is pretty hot too.

Looks matter. It might be shallow but it's true.

Anyway both Miliband and Obama are extremely intelligent. So it's a good balance.

Anonymous said...

canvas

A silly squealing little political groupie like you is in no position to call anyone else boring.

"Anyway both Miliband and Obama are extremely intelligent."

By your standards, possibly. But we know where you keep your brain.

canvas said...

anon - but you are so very boring, dreary and cowardly.

Do you have an original thought of your own? An opinion of your own?

Oh yes, I forgot, you think Barack Obama and David Milibnd are unintelligent. Who is being silly now?

:)

Anonymous said...

"I don't hear very much positive from Sen. McCain," Obama said. "He seems to be only talking about me. You need to ask John McCain what he's for, not just what he's against."

Anonymous said...

canvas said...

"you think Barack Obama and David Milibnd are unintelligent."

No, that's what I think of you. They are merely not particularly bright.

canvas said...

anon zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz