I wrote a few days ago on the choice that David Miliband had to make between losing further or winning on behalf of us all:
It’s easy to be gracious in victory. It’s far more difficult to be gracious in defeat. Your true measure can only be fully understood when you have to experience and express despondency in public.
Today, he indeed does show his measure as both politician and person.
In defeat, I like him so very much more than I did when I felt that he felt he had a God-given right to cruise to victory. He is a different and better human being for having lost – at least in my (sometimes jaundiced) eyes.
If only we could have heard triumphal leadership acceptance speeches from all the candidates before our final votes were cast. We might have realised many things we did not understand at the time.
I am sure David Miliband will return. What’s more, I’m sure he will deserve to.
Meanwhile, a different Ed from the one who cares to dominate the news cheers me up immensely here as focus and real politics, rather than the psychodramas of distraction, return – at least for the man in question – to centre stage.
I’ve said it before and will repeat it here – Ed Balls was the only leadership contender who grew in my estimation as the campaign progressed.
Ed Miliband may grasp his opportunity to impose his cunning intuitions on the rest of us. Meanwhile, people like Ed Balls will swallow their pride and reservations on behalf of the people who really matter. His pitch to parliamentary colleagues, but also ourselves, also to the rest of the country, here.
Politics is a dirty business. Neither you nor I can change that.
And what I fear (so unhappily) is that Ed Miliband – despite knowing this all along – has chosen to keep it from us, has chosen to keep from us the fact that he knew. His chubby-faced exterior, the sort you’d be happy to see your daughter going out with, hides a fierce recognition that the world is a horrible place, where people with power do unspeakable things to people who suffer from being at the bottom of the pile.
Unfortunately, it is precisely that certainty on behalf of the interests of others that I fear will drive him to hubris.
Perhaps that is always the fate of any politician of worth.
One thought to close tonight’s post. I do wonder now if David wasn’t our Goliath after all. I do wonder if Ed used us in some subliminal way and encouraged us to believe that he was the hard-done-by of the two Miliband brothers, when in reality it was the other way round.
I do wonder if, in fact, the more kindly of the two wasn’t the man whose smoothness I feared. That is to say, what I interpreted as the smoothness and polish of a professional salesman a la Blair was, in reality, the kindness of an elder brother suffering politely – indeed, almost regally – what he knew like no one else to be the insufferable and ruthless triangulations of a younger brother on a hiding-to-nothing.
Ed Miliband has already shown himself able to publicly snub his supporters in the interests of electoral popularity as he puts the unions firmly in their place.
And he’s only on Day 4.
I realise now that David Miliband was nothing like Blair.
My mistake, I’m afraid.
Further reading: LabourList tonight follows up on the meme of Ed Miliband the Ruthless in this short editorial from Mark Ferguson.