Polygonic

That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive

Well, crap

Despite my previous entry, Labour hasn’t sufficiently listened. What are blogs for, anyway?

Instead, Ed Miliband has won Labour’s leadership race. Britain’s Stephane moment has arrived.

After hearing the news, I suddenly had visions of the future – of Prime Minister David Cameron with grey hair and a wizened face free of baby-fat and rich in the wrinkles of power, three terms into his PM career and gunning for a fourth, with a generation of Britons who never knew a Labour government unsure whether abandoning Cameronism would be too risky, too much of a venture into unknown territory. And Labour still looking for a leader with the panache to deliver the message for change to the masses effectively.

I don’t much pity David his tragedy – he famously turned down a post as EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs last year, precisely because he had Labour’s leadership in his sights. Yet now, his high-octane Prime Ministerial ambition has run aground all the same. But he could have won this contest with a touch more sincerity, a touch more apology, and a touch less arrogance.

Whatever David’s shortcomings in this campaign, he lost by less than 2%, and he is an effective Tory-eating machine. Ed, however, the comfort-food-candidate of vanguard socialists and union bosses, is the reverse – an endless resource for Tories to feast upon, to draw Labour as the political wing of militant unionism.

So, “Leader Ed” – here’s hoping thou dost not squander. He may not have expected to win this contest, but win he did, and despire it all, he’ll need lessons from his loser brother regarding how to win in future.

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Filed under: Politics, UK, , ,

Britain’s Stéphane moment?

After the resignation of Paul Martin, when a dozen Liberals clamoured for the mantle of Party Leader, I will confess that I hoped the whole time that Stéphane Dion would win, and barring that, Bob Rae. I was gunning for Dion because I thought he was genuine, committed, progressive, and precisely because he was the “anti-Macchiavellian” – almost a non-politician.

Of course, I learned, as the Liberal Party did en masse, that apparently you need a Macchiavellian after all. Warm ideas, leftist compassion, complex but workable policy solutions, do not go far at all if not backed (or even supplanted) by ferocity, charisma, and a bit of populism and populist understanding.

I’m applying this lesson to the UK’s Labour leadership race (as I am wont to do) with its results announced tomorrow. OMG.

For the same reasons I once hoped for Dion, a good part of me now hopes for Ed Miliband. Ed is the one of warm ideas, of leftist compassion, of complex but workable policy solutions. He is not ferocious, he is not especially charismatic, and he looks to me as though he’d prefer to leave the room if a heated argument began to consume it. So, I like him.

But he’s too much like Stéphane Dion.

David can swing a political punch, and plays off a more carefully studied understanding of populist mood. He seems almost cold for his obvious lack of ideological fervour in him, but warms up on television with a better charisma and a ruthless passion to win the argument. What he might lack in sincerity, he overcompensates for in tactics. And, at the end of the day, the idealist wing of Labour will continue to have impact on the leadership, and will continue to guide the direction of the party.

So, rather than see a relatively weak character at the helm, I am doing away with an unalloyed fondness for Ed Miliband, and wishing that, for Labour to win, they will need to be tough. Canada’s Liberals are still looking for toughness, and I wouldn’t want to see Labour endure the Liberals’ recent history. In addition to that – whoever wins, David or Ed, let there please be no vindictive bitterness between them. Canada’s Liberals and the UK’s Labour both suffered from bipolar ganglandism, and to succeed, must unite – ideally with someone who can deliver a pep talk, draw a crowd, and mobilise mobilise mobilise.

So, with a bit of a heavy heart – Go David Go!

Filed under: Politics, UK, , , , , ,

The Mili-battle goes haywire

Diane Abbott suggested recently that Labour shouldn’t simply “anoint its next leader,” and it seems as though her message might be getting through. Not in the way that she perhaps intended, but in terms of affecting Labour party supporters’ perspective on the Mili-Battle.

Brother Ed is for the first time seen to be leading Brother David in the race to lead the Labour Party. Abbott’s calls for blue-sky thinking does play a role in this turn, I think, as she is someone to whom the media flocks for opinion in the leadership race, if not for seriousness regarding her own competitiveness.

But there is a real element, as well, of Brother David starting to display some very negative characteristics. Arrogance, Blairism, Condescension. It’s a simple ABC recipe for alienation.

These two Polly Toynbee interviews (15 minutes long each, but worth it: here’s David’s interview, and here’s Ed’s) are telling, with each brother highlighting some differences between them – in vision, but perhaps most crucially, in character. David is aggressive, frequently interrupting, not a little self-idolising. Ed is more responsive, thoughtful, and in many ways seems more committed to Labour ideals, if not perhaps to the principle of the party’s electability.

I see Labour’s dilemma as this: “should we be a party of principled opposition (Eddism), or a party of compromised government (Davidism)?” I suspect many Labour supporters are torn in this way – there are loads of Eddists who nevertheless consider seriously voting for David, calculating that he is the more likely victor in a 2015 slug-fest against the Tory war machine. The Tories apparently fear the same, though I find this “leak” somewhat suspect meddling from the Prime Minister….

While Eddists are convinced that Ed’s the good guy, the heartfelt intellectual with a moderated modernist vision for Labour, they’ve not yet been convinced he has the mega-watt charisma and the power to rally others to his cause. Thing is, if Eddists view David as a bit of a prick, they may now be wondering whether the whole of the country would draw the same conclusion at election time – if that suspicion snowballs, they may decide “it would be better that Labour lose for being too lefty, rather than for being too smarmy.”

Filed under: Politics, UK, , , ,

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