Champagne Socialism Corked: David Miliband Claims Brother Ed Turned Too Far Left

Champagne Socialism Corked: David Miliband Claims Brother Ed Turned Too Far Left

"The Day of the Triffids is a 1951 post-apocalyptic novel about a plague of blindness that befalls the entire world, allowing the rise of an aggressive species of plant." [Wiki quote]

Substitute "plant" with "Tories" and you'd be somewhere close to how the political landscape appeared to me the morning after the election before. To make matters worse, only a couple of days prior to the election, I'd written a naively optimistic article about the need for champagne socialism.

Now ... several days on, it's only the Tories with a taste of Bollinger on their lips - everyone else dry-mouthed, or feeling hung-over for all the wrong reasons.

I mean, when I see the foreboding and foppish figure of Boris Johnson, bumbling about in the new Tory cabinet, I fear the prospect of spending not five but ten to fifteen years under Tory rule.

Anyway, that's a whole other post, and sticking in the here and now, how did Labour get so blindsided in the first place?

Helpfully (or not so helpfully), David Miliband, the somewhat marginalised brother of Ed, has offered a critique of the Labour catastrophe.

In an interview with the BBC, David Miliband has suggested there's just "no point blaming the electorate" ... "they didn't want what was being offered" ... both "Gordon Brown and Ed allowed themselves to be portrayed as moving backwards from the principles of aspiration and inclusion, that are the absolute heart of any successful progressive political project".

In a nutshell, David Miliband outlined how his brother Ed took Labour too far to the left, ignoring the needs and wants of the aspirational middle classes.

But is such an interpretation really true?

Did Labour move too far to the Left? Did the issues of a proposed mansion and non-dom tax really send shock-waves throughout middle-England?

Former Labour leader, Neil Kinnock certainly didn't think so.

During a short BBC interview (as his son Stephen became Labour MP for Aberavon), Kinnock claimed people were voting in the ballot box out of financial self-interest, erroneously believing a pervasive "Tory myth" that people are financially better off under the Conservative party.

"Any opposition to that established attitude, any radicalism, any effort to undertake a different path - not just by Labour but indeed by other parties - is always going to have difficulty countering that established myth, and it appears to be the case in the 2015 election."

Neil Kinnock has a point.

No matter the shortcomings of the Labour campaign - and there were plenty - during each and every election campaign Labour find themselves not only battling the Tory party, but an undeniably right-leaning press (The Evening Standard, The Metro, The Daily Mail, The Times, The Telegraph, The Sun, Sky News, ITV News, Channel 4 News, and even a questionably pro-establishment BBC).

Quite simply, press attacks on Miliband were as savage as they were unfounded: Red Ed the Jewish "bacon eating" communist, Red Ed the north London geek who ruthlessly stabbed his own brother in the back, Red Ed the man who'll send the Stasi into your home to kill your pet dog?!

Meanwhile, Cameron received the occasional mention of not seeming quite "up for it".

In reality though, Labour were not "too left" for everyday people, at least not if every day people had ignored the constant rhetoric of Tory-owned media outlets, and instead actually read the Labour manifesto. If the electorate had done this they would have discovered an essentially conservative (conservative a with a small c) list of pledges and policies with only a scattering of more populist left-wing policy.

Of course, unsurprisingly, the biased media altogether avoid the topic of bias in the media. Go figure, right?!

During a BBC, Question Time special (first aired the day after the election), an audience member stated her belief that the Murdoch press were the single biggest influence on the outcome of the election.

Tory MP, Francis Maude gallingly countered, "it's terribly insulting and patronising to suggest the electorate are so gullible as to not know their own mind". Indeed, it was almost as if the incredibly "patronising" Francis Maude didn't truly believe newspapers carry incredible influence on shaping public opinion, or quite recall how Murdoch's fervent backing of Tony Blair led to thirteen years of Labour government (albeit a Blairite, Murdoch-friendly Labour).

It was almost just like that.

Next, Julia Hartley-Brewer (another Tory friendly broadcaster) condescendingly chimed in: "the reality is, actually, there's no evidence whatsoever to indicate the press drive how people vote ... no really there isn't".

The questioner despaired, and so did I.

The truth is, sometimes facts are merely confirmation of the obvious. In a country, where the vast majority of the electorate do not receive a formal political education, they invariably shape their opinions from the press, without the time or faculty to properly scrutinise what they read by fact checking. If the electorate are bombarded - which they are - by an overwhelmingly bias and right wing press; hacks continually slinging mud and, for example, cynically telling readers Ed Miliband is a communist; much of the mud sticks, and ultimately democracy suffers.

So ... did Ed Miliband get it wrong?

Like most answers in life, it's a YES and NO.

YES: In places Labour's message was not always clear; the party did not always offer a strong enough opposition to Tory rhetoric, countering their false assertions such as the global crisis, and subsequent deficit, being Labour's fault. Neither did Labour counter the myth the Tories are the party for the so called "middle classes."

These failures cost Labour dearly.

NO: Simply because I believe Ed Miliband stayed true to his strongly held principles and beliefs; principles and beliefs somewhat at odds with the Blairite views of his brother, David; principles and beliefs that would have benefited this country enormously, and certainly offered a lovelier, bubblier alternative to what now awaits us.

Champagne socialism, unfortunately corked for now.


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