I didn't know who was going to win the Labour leadership election. I guess I assumed that it was going to be David Miliband, and the thought didn't particularly trouble me. But when his brother, Ed, won, I was a bit shocked and surprised, but not entirely displeased. I wasn't not overjoyed, nor was I particularly not underwhelmed.
I know. You're sick of coming here and reading such polemics.
And yesterday I fired off an angry post insisting that Nick Robinson and Jeremy Paxman and everyone just shut up trying to analyse every gesture, every expression of the brothers like a bunch of amateur psychoanalytic literary critics. It would have been nice, instead, had they focussed on the substantial issues of policy.
(I speak, too, I guess, as a professional psychoanalytic literary critic...)
Some people have suggested that there weren't any substantial differences in policy between the brothers, which is why everyone focussed on the 'psycho-drama'. But I don't think that's true: I think Nick Robinson and his ilk would have focussed on any of the gossip or tittle-tattle rather than the big issues anyway, because that's what the (post-)modern media likes to do, it's all they can do.
So now that David has (finally) announced that he won't run for the shadow cabinet (which seems like a perfectly sensible thing to do, and a perfectly sensible time to announce it, given that the media would have focussed on nothing else no matter when he decided to do it), and now everyone is saying 'Well, he couldn't be in the cabinet, could he? because the differences between the brothers are so great.' Except they're not, are they? I mean, were hardly talking Benn versus Healy here, are we? Of course not. This is a united Labour party. The differences on display, even those differences buried, aren't anywhere near as great as those between the Conservatives and their Liberal slaves, or even within the Conservatives (e.g. Europhiles versus Eurosceptics) or within the Liberals right now (between left, e.g. Hughes, and the right-wingers in Cabinet.)
BUT, there is one important difference, and it seems to be this difference that has seen David leave today. IF, on the Iraq war, David Miliband is unable to apologise, if he is unable to admit that the last Labour government made a terrible, terrible mistake into going into war -- whether because of ideological blindness or a more simply failure of intelligence -- then David needs to go. Because that was the issue on which the Labour government lost the support of the country, of the left and of their own supporters. And he should not be allowed back until he is willing to share responsibility for that horrid error. And no one who sat with their hands in their laps yesterday when Ed acknowledged the mistake should be allowed in the shadow cabinet either.
Ok. Now that's done. I'm going to go crawl into a hole and hide while the Tory conference is on, because I can't stand the thought of those smug, self-congratulatory bastards celebrating. (Unless Mr. Fox has any more private letters to his leader he wants to leak to the media? Keep it up, Mr. Fox -- you might have your uses yet.)