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Brian Monteith: Good riddance to Blair’s ‘heir’

David Miliband announced that he is to step down as an MP and will move to New York to work for the International Rescue Committee. Picture: Getty

David Miliband announced that he is to step down as an MP and will move to New York to work for the International Rescue Committee. Picture: Getty

  • by BRIAN MONTEITH
 

Gents, have you looked out your black tie and armband? Ladies, do you have a black hat, preferably with a net veil? If the behaviour of our glorious BBC is to believed we are due a national week of mourning, maybe a state funeral.

The only problem being the (not-so) poor bloke it has been banging on about all week hasn’t died.

I’m referring to the Rt Hon David Miliband, brother of Ed, former foreign secretary, standard bearer for Blairism and the best leader the Labour Party never had, apparently. The ungrateful soul has decided that he’s had enough of being in the House of Commons and has announced he is leaving his South Shields constituency for the United States.

Suddenly, the impact of the Budget was old news. The Cyprus banking crisis a mere footnote, the most important thing politically became the departure of the wrong Miliband. The BBC’s print edition, commonly known as the Guardian, went into paroxysms. All sorts of comments and statements were issued from the likes of Tony Blair and, yes, even former US president Bill Clinton.

What is Britain’s loss is apparently the world’s gain, as boy David will be working for a charity dealing with some of the most pressing humanitarian issues around the globe. It is not without irony that many of the current humanitarian problems needing his careful attention were instigated, or at least made worse, by Tony and his team.

This Easter weekend, it is worth pondering that ten years ago before the war there were 300 Christian churches in Iraq, now there are only 57. No doubt Mr Miliband will be able to take lots of experience to Middle Eastern issues, like the Syrian refugee crisis. Or how about the Iranian refugees in Iraq being persecuted and murdered by the Iraqi regime at the behest of Iran? And here’s me thinking the Iraq war was partly to stop all the persecution and killings. Regime change, yes, but refugee change is still awaited.

So, why all of this upset in parts of the media?

One reason that Mr Miliband is going is that his brother is definitely staying on as Labour leader. The jokes about the wrong Miliband winning are repeated with the twist of the wrong Miliband resigning. David was a walking reminder of the weaknesses of Ed; every time he spoke in Westminster there were comments, comparisons and laments about what might have been. Thus, for the good of the Labour Party not only did he have to get out of the Commons he had to get out of the country to be as far away as possible and take the embarrassment of the media spotlight off him.

The disappointment of the metropolitan political class that lives and breathes the BBC output tells us just how they hoped David Miliband might one day be their salvation. They still hanker after Blairism and, with David Miliband’s departure the prospect for it returning goes with him. Therefore, his resignation was as if he had fallen under the proverbial Clapham Omnibus, the Guardian might have well have printed an obituary.

What the BBC reaction also tells us is just how much Labour is seeking to move back to its old ways of being the tail wagged by the trade union dog. New Labour is dead and Ed Miliband applied the lethal injection. It’s a very slow death, like slowly upping the morphine level, but everything that pulled Labour to the supposed centre ground is now being quietly expunged so that the Labour Party that faces David Cameron and Nick Clegg in 2015 will be an entirely different beast.

This gives the BBC luvvies and the champagne socialists of Hampstead and Islington far less influence so they are crying into their Cosmopolitan cocktails and choking on their Polenta.

What then does all this media frenzy mean for us? After all, it’s so London orientated and it’s about the resignation of a backbench MP from the north-east of England.

Well, now that the BBC management is shorn of what it intuitively saw as its own corporate representative in parliament, hopefully we might start getting some proper analysis from it about just what the Labour Party is offering, rather than the apologia for anything either Miliband would do or say.

Can we now have some tough questioning for the government in waiting, its economic policy and how – having got us into this mess – it proposes to get us out of it if the coalition government – as seems likely – fails to succeed?

But more importantly, maybe we can have some proper analysis of what the Blair years actually meant – just how devastating so much of what was done is now being established but we rarely hear it on the BBC. Let’s face it Blair left Gordon Brown to screw up the economy; he took us into wars based on lies and he wrecked our system of government, leaving Britain on the brink of splitting up. David Miliband held his hand through all of this. As he leaves to go to America, I certainly shan’t shed a tear.

 

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