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April, 15th 2010

David Miliband beclowns himself, demonstrates little familiarity with UK/US policy

– Liz Mair

I haven't done much blogging or tweeting on the UK general election, due to take place in less than a month.

But today, I'm prompted to do some by this bit of ridiculousness, courtesy of UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband:

Where to start?

First off, it's a bad sign for Labour that they're having to send out such an important guy in the Cabinet to campaign in Islington.  I feel empowered to opine on this because, conveniently,  Islington was the borough where I lived for several years, where I vote (Islington South constituency, baby!) and where I ran a race for three Council candidates back in 2005.  I can tell you that it's philosophically on a par with Cambridge, Massachusetts (it's casually known as "the People's Republic," it hosts the Karl Marx memorial library, you get the idea)-- so there's no danger of a Tory pickup there.  But the Liberal Democrats have typically been competitive throughout the borough-- and I guess they must be again this year if Miliband is being deployed to campaign up there.

Second, and more importantly, though, as ever, it's amusing to me to see anyone painting George Bush as a standard-bearer for limited government, fiscal conservatism, and everything else that goes with those two things.  I've said it a million times, but I'll say it again: George Bush loved big government just as much as Lyndon Johnson-- in fact, by some measures, he loved big government more than LBJ.  Cameron's Tories, by contrast, are at least calling for £12 billion in "efficiency savings." 

Moreover, it's more than a tad ironic to see Miliband, a Foreign Secretary from the Labour Party-- you know, the political party that was in charge when the UK enthusiastically jumped into the Iraq War-- making comparisons between Cameron and Bush.  I guarantee you that if you ask the average man or woman on the street in the UK, who's more Bush-like: Blair or Cameron, the answer won't be Cameron.  Just like we saw "Bush Lied, People Died" signs at anti-war protests across the US a few years ago, signs that read "Bliar" (get it?) were de rigeur at UK anti-war protests.  "Bliar" remains a key term deployed to this day by Brits who dislike the UK, under Blair and Labour's leadership, tag-teaming with the US under Bush to invade Iraq. 

In short, where domestic policy is concerned, Miliband doesn't actually understand what Bush stood for.  And on foreign policy, he doesn't understand the perception of what his party stands for.  And he's the British Foreign Secretary, for God's sake.  How loudly can you scream D'Oh?!"

Finally, though, I have to chuckle at one smaller point arising in this video.  You may have noticed in watching it that Miliband is equating Cameron to Bush while talking about the need for government to be involved in an effort to send man to the moon, rather than having it done by the private sector.  We already know, from what I've said above, that Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, doesn't know much about domestic policy initiated by a key British and Labour ally (Bush) and that he also doesn't understand that it's his party that has espoused a very similar line on foreign policy to the US under Bush.  But it looks like he hasn't been paying attention to news coming out of the US much this week, either.  If he were-- and you'd kind of expect him to be, given his job and all-- he'd know that it's President Obama who just got ripped by Neil Armstrong for canceling the Constellation program.  The word "canceling" should be the tip off here.  As much as Miliband may think Bush didn't want government involved in space travel, apparently, he was OK with that, too.  Obama, however, it appears is not.

Bear in mind that Miliband is considered a leading light of the Labour Party-- a future leader, in fact.  Contrary to what the above might indicate, too, he's not a dumb guy-- or a bad politician.

But the fact that he's having to spout such complete and utter crap is a good indicator of just how in the hole the Labour Party really is.  And why they just can't honestly be described as serious individuals anymore.

There are some things I dislike about the Conservative Party as it stands-- like the fact that it's not nearly as fiscally or economically conservative as I would like it to be, being the main one.  My point about £12 billion in "efficiency savings" above notwithstanding, if Miliband were arguing that Cameron is like Bush because he purports to be fiscally conservative but isn't actually averse to spending money, I'd probably give him a pass. 

But as it is, I'm afraid I just can't oblige.

Good luck in Islington, Dave.  I'll be less than surprised if I see Emily Thornberry out on her backside on May 7. [intro]

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