>David Miliband’s copy cat campaign highlights a deeper political problem

>The other day, the Tory Bear blog ran a story about its Editor’s experience having infiltrated David Miliband’s Movement for Change. This was not just a good read from a blogger not normally so compatible with VN, there is a more serious point for David Miliband than a Conservative infiltrator. After retiring his Tony Blair impression, Miliband D’s entire campaign seems to a very poorly concocted attempt to be Labour and Britain’s Barack Obama. ‘Movement for Change’ is no ‘Organising for America’. The point of OFA was that it engaged new people, all David Miliband has done is crammed the people who already support him into a room.

No, this falseness highlights a more serious point about politicians in general. How can the electorate relate to these people? The campaign teams may all have a crib sheet with the price of a pint of milk and a loaf of bread on it, but does anyone in the political sphere actually do anything, you know, normal? Can David Miliband tell you who is number one this week, or hum the the tune? Can his brother Ed name the three scorers for England against Switzerland the other night? Has Ed Balls read ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?’?

This is not to recommend that political leaders all sit down with a ‘zeitgeist tape’ of the type made famous by Malcolm Tucker and his hapless ministerial minions. Intelligence and dedication are traits to absolutely be admired, and demanded, in our political leaders.  It is about attitude. David Miliband fails this test comprehensively, even in comparison to his clone competitors for the Labour leadership. It is reassuring that Andy Burnham will be cheering on his beloved Everton against Manchester United this weekend, endearing that Diane Abbot can probably name the children’s’ crazes of the last few years, and actually possible to imagine having a row over a pint with Ed Balls. Even Ed Miliband seems to have some level approachability. But David? Look next to the phrase ‘political hack’ in a dictionary and you would just find his picture in place of a definition. 

This though is not a problem that just befalls the Labour party, or just David Miliband. There are Liberal Democrat MPs and councillors who enjoy nothing more than an evening pouring over the arguments for proportional representation, Conservative members up long into the night reminiscing over Margaret Thatcher’s legacy. This kind of politician disengages people from the democratic process more deeply than they can possibly realise, and it is a problem increasingly befalling street level political activists too. Which normal people would give up their weekend to deliver leaflets that nobody will read? Who writes amendments to the amendments for a motion to a party conference? Such people form the backbone of local political organisation, but it is near impossible for them to connect to the people who’s vote they are trying to win.

Perhaps tellingly the most successful British political leaders of recent times, Tony Blair, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, do not quite fit this mould. Stop screaming at your monitors for a minute and think about it. Sure all these men were brought up in middle class comfort, but it is their attitude, not environment that makes them different. All were Oxbridge educated, but none were involved in student politics. They didn’t spend their time trawling for internships on W4MP, delivering the aforementioned leaflets, or obsessively attending local party meetings on a Friday evening. They were open to a multiplicity of influences. From the close friends from Australia, India and Africa Blair describes in ‘A Journey’, to Clegg’s travels due to his language studies, and even Cameron’s brief stint working for Saatchi, these three men entered politics after forming their opinions away from politics. Although it has manifested itself in quite different ways, their unconventional political entry points mean all three men have a natural instinct for change and reform. All three men brought their parties to power.

One of the things that led to Gordon Brown’s downfall was was an inability to look out of the political bubble. He was so deeply rooted in the Labour party and politics that he couldn’t connect with people not in that sphere. It is time for politicians to remember that their place of work is called the House of Commons. This has an implication of normality, an ability to separate oneself from Westminster Village and be a common member of society. It is not about class or upbringing, it is about attitude and approach. 

If Cameron and Clegg’s ‘New Politics’ is to mean anything, perhaps it should really mean a new type of politician. 


3 Comments to “>David Miliband’s copy cat campaign highlights a deeper political problem”

  1. >Absolute lies, lies, lies regarding David's house parties and the Movement For Change!I am so angry that you assume all the David Miliband party guests and Future Leaders are all pre-existing fans of him. The hosts definitely are like myself, but that's no crime/surprise. All the people that came to mine apart from 1 weren't supporters of him and 3 guests present weren't even LP members (until the end!)9 turned up altogether.The Movement For Change does have his name behind it – but it's about us – the public and it's for the Labour Party and our members and is a great opportunity to invite new members to join.Please stop spewing out rubbish on aspects of his campaign you obviously have no evidence of or enough examples to paint the true picture!Nobody wants Cameron and Clegg either – David Miliband provides the new broader politics I've joined the Labour Party for – end of!

  2. >In agreement on many points, not least that DM et al were in that last government which should communicate a great deal to the membership and their prospects for failure in the future.You're correct that the House of Commons is where its at. But, Labours failure to reform parliament while last in Government, I suggest, is down to NOT knowing how to set about it.Liza comments above but doesnt quite get a valid point across. Liza fails to communicate in a comprehensible manner and but tacitly signals where governance sits on Labours rader – beyond the horizon.In agreement on many points, not least; that DM was in that last government which should communicate a great deal to the membershiop and his prospects for failure in the future.The 'New Politics' now being delivered by a Coalition invites the people to get involved – which, we obviously know, is something the last government couldn't possibly fathom – hence the bigotgate misunderstanding and ensuing debacle.

  3. >No. That's not what people are looking for in a politician. The electorate didn't vote for Blair, Cameron or Clegg because they engaged them. Those that voted, voted because of their belief in their own political narrative. Some individuals are raised as Tory as some are raised as Labour and they vote accordingly. Blair didn't win in 1997 as much as the Tories lost and Labour won. This is reflected in the reduction of votes that followed year-on-year. These voters didn't defect, they stopped voting. Cameron-Clegg did not win the election, New Labour lost it; perversely, not by the amount they should have taking into account its policies and Brown's (electability).Yes we need political leaders that understand what the electorate want, but that's not the hard part, it's finding leaders that want the same and are not too terrified to face up to those who like the system as it is. Genuine human beings in politics are what people want, sadly, politics only seems to attract the self-serving, self-deluding and ultimately, self-indulging individual.

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