It’s been quite clear during the closing stages that a negative spin-operation has been going on in the leadership battle. Behind closed doors the David Miliband campaign seems to have been briefing heavily against the Ed Miliband campaign in quite poisonous terms. As soon as Ed received union backing it began; the ‘Old Labour’ bogeyman was revived with gusto. Ed was the ‘unions man’ and before long it would be beer and sandwiches at Number 10. The Conservative press is what has been used to effect this; witness todays story in The Times which implies the GMB are effectively blackmailing the Labour Party into electing Ed Miliband. In right-wing papers from the Times through the Telegraph to the Mail the same story appeared under lurid headlines.
Of course, if this was the case it would be outrageous and deeply uncomradely. However, what Paul Kenny actually said was pretty textboox stuff and something numerous union leaders have been saying for a fair amount of time. Here is a quote:
“If the new leader offers us more of the same, many unions – including our own – would have to consider where we are at.
“Ed Balls and David Miliband represent where we’ve been. They are not without talent. I would not rubbish them. But if the direction of the party went off chasing right-of-centre ground…”
He then went onto say something positive about Ed Miliband:
“Ed Miliband is not ashamed of Labour’s core values. It’s not about a big society. It’s about a fair society.”
Unsurprising he should since the GMB is supporting Ed. Notice how the top sentence, a call for a change in policy direction, is mish-mashed with the other two to equate to attempted extortion. Maybe it’s a coincidence that David Miliband’s ‘chase the centre ground’ article first appeared in another bastion of the Conservative press, the Daily Telegraph, on the other hand maybe it is not. It would all look so much less seedy if in articles and speeches the elder Miliband hadn’t been painting his brother in exactly the same terms. Indeed, the article cited is an attempt to fasten a cloth-cap to Ed Milibands head. Meanwhile, I notice The Guardian has an article which claims David Cameron sees David Miliband as the greatest threat:
A well-placed source told the Guardian: “David Cameron said the candidate he hoped for was Ed Miliband, and the candidate he most feared was David Miliband.”
I really can’t imagine, having recently become a proud parent, either of the Milibands are of especial concern to Mr Cameron at this precise moment in time. However, we can agree that the timing, the closing stages of a tight-race, is rather fortuitous for the David Miliband campaign. How generous of the Prime Minister to help-out. Sunny Hundal’s cynicism on Liberal Conspiracy is, I believe, well-placed. Really, do we want to go back to this? Is it not these very actions which show the vapid nature of the politics and policies on offer and precisely this orange pith approach to politics that was found so cruelly wanting at the polls in May?