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Wednesday 27 March 2013

Miliband Departure Spin

[Update at end of post]

The decision by Mil The Elder to leave the political stage and head off to New York to head up the International Rescue Committee (IRC) at first took the punditerati by surprise. But they soon regained their composure, and by the most remarkable of coincidences those leaning to the right decided that the departure was A Very Bad Thing for Labour.

Doesn't exactly look doomed, does he?

Forget the difficulty posed by the elder Miliband being ever-present on the back benches, with any intervention or speech pored over for signs which could be interpreted as a difference of opinion or even tone with his brother. Forget also the equally present threat of having a leader in waiting who kept declining shadow cabinet jobs. Just paint the outcome as bad for Labour.

That’s a difficult one to stand up: for starters, the Labour leadership now knows there isn’t going to be a challenge, or even threat. The upcoming by-election in South Shields should not be a problem, with Labour taking over 50% of the vote last time (and the prospect of a local candidate maybe bettering that – after all, they took over 70% in 1997). It’s hardly putting the party in jeopardy.

Whatever, there are agendas to push, and for the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, that means today’s headline is “Humiliation for Ed as David Miliband quits politics for 'dream' charity job in U.S.”, which has set the scene for the rest. Never mind that this is as opportune as Roy Jenkins going off to Brussels and taking the heat off Jim Callaghan (1976, by the way).

And, as the Mail leads, others obediently follow: the Murdoch Sun leads with “Ed Miliband blow as his bro says: It’s time to go”, co-authored by not at all assertive Political Editor Tom Newton Dunn, who tells readers “DAVID Miliband will quit as an MP today in a huge blow to brother Ed”. Some of those not picking up the paper for their diet of slebs’n’sport may even believe him.

Even the Daily UKIP (aka the Express) puts the same spin on the news: “Now even big brother David gives up on Ed Miliband as he quits British politics”, although Alison Little’s article was too late for the print edition, which concentrated on frightening readers about migrants. Because there are a lot of them, and they’re all coming here (they talk foreign, as well).

And, to put the icing on the cake, there are the pundits who knew all along that he’d be off: “David Miliband has confirmed what we all knew: he could never be Labour leader” tells Benedict “famous last words” Brogan in the Telegraph. Except he just forgot to tell his readers. So that’s hindsight to add to the blatant right-wing spin. And these are supposed to be credible political commentators.

Still, they’re only obeying orders and it pays the bills, so that’s all right, then.

[UPDATE 1645 hours: it only takes one pundit to burst the balloon of the right-wing spinners, and today that pundit is Dan Hodges, no fan of the current Labour leader. Hodges does not subscribe to the frankly daft idea that the elder Miliband departing harms the current leadership, and his words bear quoting.

"He has made the right decision for everyone. His younger brother's position as leader is secure until the next election. His presence, on either the front or back benches, would indeed have been a distraction"

When someone who has been severely critical of both the Labour leadership, and their London Mayoral candidate - to the extent that he backed Boris Johnson - puts it that clearly, it merely underscores that the meme being peddled by the Sun, Mail and Express (but, note, not the Telegraph) is total drivel]

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