It says something about the rather dismal condition of both British politics and journalism, that this week there was an amount of liberal fluttering over a speech at the London School of Economics by former Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who was beaten by his brother for the Labour leadership. Here is Miliband’s thesis; it is that the European left is losing elections on an epic scale because it has lost control of the political argument to a much more adaptive European Right. So far, so good, although some of us were saying this much fifteen years ago. And so far so good, because the New Labour Governments, of which Mr Miliband was such an enthusiastic supporter, largely adopted what the ‘adaptive European Right’ was offering. This was called ‘triangulation’, and in Britain in particular was linked to the ‘Third Way’ nonsense peddled by amongst others, the disgraced Gadaffi enthusiast Anthony Giddens, from the same LSE. The rest of the European Left never quite went the neo con distance that Blair et al took the Labour Party, but with a few honourable exceptions, the political surrender to free market fundamentalism drove many of the social democratic parties to run up the white flag. Working class and middle class voters alike tend to support political parties that support their economic interests.
David Miliband has been applauded by sections of the liberal press – most notably Martin Kettle in The Guardian – essentially for acknowledging the bleeding obvious; that the parties of the European Left are losing three main groups of voters; working class voters in insecure jobs who are fearful of migrant labour; middle income voters, who are scared of losing their standard of living, and younger middle class graduates who are alienated by the compromises of power.
So what to do about it, now that David Miliband has acknowledged that actually voters didn’t particularly like formerly social democratic parties who had in essence sold out. Back to Martin Kettle again in The Guardian; “Miliband’s view is explicit; ‘Only a post New Labour brand of European social democracy, building on success, not a pre New Labour stance can address the weaknesses”.
Yep, you had better read that again. I had to read three or four time before the enormity of Miliband’s sheer vacuity became duly apparent. I kept on thinking that there must somehow be a catch. Surely, someone as brainy as David Miliband, can only have said this because behind it there must be some inner meaning? And how can Martin Kettle attach the epithet ‘explicit to this butchery of philosophy and politics?
Sadly not. This it would seem is the rallying cry of the Blairites in exile. And here is David Miliband, Labour’s lost son across the waters in Tribune, and quoted from the same LSE speech; “Labour should fight elections as private sector reformers, in the name of efficiency and not just fairness”.
With such doggerel, the political class and the Westminster beltway press continue to flap and talk to each other in ever diminishing circles. Utterly irrelevant and thoroughly boring, what on earth makes them think that such nonsense will repair the Left or even flog a few more newspapers?
If David Miliband is the answer, it’s a bloody silly question.