If there is one thing even funnier than David Cameron trying to be the Common Man, it is Ed Miliband trying to be macho tough-guy. No doubt most of you saw that debate last week where he was asked the palpably braindead question, “Can you be tough if the occasion demands it?”
Edward the Ruthless Rabbit had been waiting for the question all evening, and thoroughly relished the chance to say “Oh hell yes!”. The trouble was, his perfect received Oxford pronunciation and startled eyes somehow made the response ridiculous – as if Bertrand Russell was making it. There was also a dimension of the Transexual from Transylvania in The Rocky Horror Show – who asks Brad what does he think of the man he’s created, and Brad answers “He’s OK I guess” to which Frank replies, full-on bitch, “Listen dear, I didn’t make him for yooo“.
If you asked him if he could be a Hell-raiser, no doubt Ed would reply, “Oh, yees – Hell – I just don’t care! I may drink my shandy in halves, but I always choose a dirty glass”.
Twitter of course has been loving it all week, and a virtual female chum and I have been exchanging names like Ed Mirambo, Ed Milibond, and so forth. For me though, I’m afraid he remains either Ed Milibland or Moribund: the standard issue, perfectly right-on-message Oxymoron who’s never thought out of a box in his life….and has, empirically, an atrocious track-record of avoiding tough decisions at all costs.
The odd thing is that Miliband is no good at being a fake, and this is what lets him down. I watched him during a key Environment debate in the House seven years ago, and as the Secretary of State he looked very impressive. I still think much of what he said (and says) is twaddle, and he has – like almost all politicians now – no concept at all of any negative commercial ramifications firmly attached to his barmy ideas about electric power and lighting. But his performance that morning was top notch: he is a good set-piece debater, and in that context is very much at ease, thinking well on his feet. Put him in an unscripted media show, however, and he thinks with his feet.
When push came to shove with the EU, Ed Miliband showed what he’d be like when dealing with the mad folks across the Channel: the CO2 commitment he signed up to was insane, and showed zero awareness of the NASA research that has blown much of the CO2 culprit out of the Dock. If you look at the output of just two generators in China, for example, they churn out more so-called greenhouse gases in a month than the entire UK does in five years. Two wrongs do not make a right…if they are wrongs in the first place. Ed’s problem is that he likes settled science. Uncertainty unsettles him. The best PMs thrive on uncertainty….as indeed do genuine scientists.
As for the floods fiasco of last year, Ed got off very lightly. All the hypocrites from Farage downwards did….but somehow Miliband managed to suggest that Tory denial about climate change was to blame – and the dredging neglect was a direct result of Coalition cuts. That was a lie – and as Environment Secretary at the time, he must have known this. Directive 2007/60/EC on the assessment and management of flood risks entered into force on 26 November 2007, and quite expressly insisted (for the EC knows no other mode) that all Member States should:
‘assess if all water courses and coast lines are at risk from flooding, to map the flood extent and assets and humans at risk in these areas and to take adequate and coordinated measures to reduce this flood risk…this Directive also reinforces the rights of the public to access this information and to have a say in the planning process.’
In short, the failure to do anything began on his watch. But there is no hard evidence to prove either that Miliband oversaw such an operation or that David Cameron canned it. What did happen after the flood disaster – always the way with economists and politicians – was a determined effort to turn up and look sad. It was, as I wrote at the time, the Week of the Westminster Wellingtons. Even in that situation, however, Ed Miliband looked somehow delicate:
Dear old Nigel Flood-barrage, God bless ‘im, waded into the deepest darkest currents he could find: not for him the fear of filling his boots. His press statements were full of shit mind you, but let’s not get upset about it – anything was better than George Osborne – who pitched up minus either tea or sympathy, telling the locals that this was a freak occurrence, almost certainly caused not by global warming, but by rain. You’ve got to hand it to the Chancellor, deep down he’s shallow – and not even floods can change that reality.
My bottom line on Mr Milibean is this: if I could find anything hopeful or promising in a Government headed by him, I would vote for him with alacrity. A majority of Brits, if inspired enough, would I believe prefer lots of alternatives to that of King David of Camerlot. But I have searched in vain for hope or promise from this dull man and his bourgeois Stalinist Brownites: he is as likely to shake up Britain for the good of the majority as Breszhnev was in the Soviet Union of the late 1970s.
At the risk of repeating myself, libertarian democratic politics is supposed to be about genuine choice. The 2015 UK General Election offers – at the grounded, realistic level – the following choice:
Between a nasty corporacratic shower of wide boys and scammers working for multinational business, idiot bankers….and the EU; and a fluffy rag-bag of rigid ideologues with little understanding of entrepreneurial economics, working for a set of minorities that are nowhere near a majority in total…and the EU.
This is, boiled down, a choice between the incoherent and the intolerant. And per-leeeze, let’s not have any threads about all the Kingmakers I’ve left out, because that’s all they are. Whatever the final outcome of post-vote horsetrading, those two choices between evils will represent the overwhelmingly dominant influence in the Government that emerges.
To those trolls who say I never offer a better alternative, I say (a) the search engine on my site does exactly what is says on the pack and (b) mutualist communitarianism breeds far more solid, economic and social success than any form of neoliberal capitalism. From Waitrose to FCUM, the evidence is there for all those who would see it.