Matthew Norman's Diary: I've got David Miliband's future all mapped out
Monday 27 September 2010
Don't dare say you didn't read it here first – unless you never read it here at all, of course, or read it somewhere else first. The template for the Milibandroid was indeed the one cited on this page in June... the Frasier episode in which Little Niles pips Frasier to become the wine club Corkmaster by an infinitesimal margin.
Where Frasier stormed off the moment his sense of older-brother entitlement was betrayed, poor David must stay a while for appearance's sake. We'll have a clue whether it will be six months (my guess) or a year from whether he refuses Ed's pleas to become Shadow Chancellor. But either way, then what? With a wife and two adopted sons born in the US, the destination seems obvious. So, perhaps, does the employer. Why take a job teaching politics to Ivy Leaguers when he could go to the Department of State as a key adviser to Hillary Clinton?
"Tall and dashing," the bottle-blonde cougar called David last year, "so vibrant, vital, attractive, smart". "Delightful to deal with one-to-one," was David's no-nonsense counter-strike. With Israel-Palestine so high on her agenda, she could use a bit of eye candy with major diplomatic experience and Jewish origins on her trips to Tel Aviv. There is even a chance, with Obama seemingly tiring of the Oval Office, that Hillary will become the 45th President. David Miliband reborn as a serious West Wing player while Ed struggles in opposition... now there's a brand of fraternal revenge to warm the heart.
* Hats off to Nick Robinson for reassuring worried Ed fans by calling it for David after the first round of voting. David looked happy and Ed did not, posited the BBC's political editor, selflessly ignoring that the loser invariably smiles defiantly in such circs while the winner avoids triumphalism. Nick mustn't be too glum. He has staked a claim to William Rees-Mogg's title of Soothsayer of Soothsayers, and may expect Mystic Mogg's Times column if ever it falls vacant.
* Congratulations also to the Daily Mirror for leaping aboard the David bandwagon when the candidate least in tune with its ferocious opposition to spending cuts seemed (at least to itself) a sure thing. If betraying its editorial line to back a winner seemed careless, ridiculing itself to back a loser looks like another stride on the road to irrelevance.
* As for Peter Mandelson, last week's prediction here that his carefully timed attack on Ed would swing it for David is being championed elsewhere. Assuming it was Mandy wot won it, thereby burying David and New Labour for good, the lesson today is taken from The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Each Mandy, as Oscar Wilde came so close to putting it, kills the thing he loves.
* If it wasn't his lordship's 11th-hour intervention, identifying the precise moment David lost it is a toughie. Was it when he wussily recoiled from ousting Gordon in the banana boy summer of 2008, or when he repeated the trick in 2009 by failing to follow James Purnell to the backbenches? Or was it when he lent enough support to Diane Abbott, intending to dilute Ed's vote with another left-wing candidate, to get her nominated? Had Diane not run, he would probably have snaffled enough of her support to have won. Was David too clever by half, if not three-quarters. Or at least by 1.3 per cent?
* But that's enough intruding into David's private grief, so let's end with a glance at a more genteel sibling rivalry. Boris Johnson's sister Rachel seeks a portion of his fame via her editorship of The Lady (a job for which, honesty demands I mention, my own saintly missus was shortlisted), and Matthew Bell's Independent on Sunday interview with its disenchanted owner was a joy. "All she thinks about is sex. You can't get her away from a penis," sniffed Julia Budworth, already sated with Rachel's preference for self-promotion over more reliable if time-consuming methods of building circulation. "It's all about her," she added of an editor she sees as vain, mad and snobby. "I suppose it's the same with Boris, and we should have spotted that. But nobody told us." You never asked, Mrs B. I'd have told you.
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