Matthew Norman on Monday: Farewell, Milibandroid the Elder, and come again soon

It will take more than International Rescue to steal the thunder of David Miliband

Share

Did anything ever become Labour’s  great lost leader like the manner of his going? David Miliband is off to join International Rescue on Tracy Island, New York, to train as pilot of the banana-shaped amphibious landing craft Thunderbird 6, and yesterday’s valedictory interview with Andrew Marr cruelly reminded us what a grievous loss he is. Rigidly avoiding any sub-Blairite, neo-David Brentian drivel – “if you overcalculate,” he stated just the twice, “you miscalculate” – Milibandroid the Elder offered much to tantalise his army of fans. “Of course … we’re brothers,” said David when asked if the pain of losing to his sibling had healed. “Not you and me,” he helpfully added lest Andrew be confused. “Ed and me. There are the Murrays of this world and the Djokovics who come second, and you’ve got to be gracious when you don’t win.” As so often with this beacon of gracious defeat, what impressed most was his acute  self-awareness. Asked whether public sector workers who note him  earning more from one speech than they earn in a year might think him  self-interested, he said that what he wants is for “constituents to know …  I am fighting for them … that I am absolutely committed to making sure they come first”. How very true, and how thrilled the good voters of Sunderland North must be to find him expressing that absolute commitment by buggering off to the States.

The sum total of his wisdom

David offered so much to inspire, and you will indulge some more praise for his startlingly perceptive analysis of what to expect from the next election. While there may be another hung parliament, he advanced, neither a Labour nor Tory majority can be ruled out. Even this champion earning-machine couldn’t put a price on insight of that quality. Or on his warning that “there’s a bit too much mathematics going on with the polls”. When you think about it, a bit of geography, or even religious studies, might be better. God willing, he returns to us soon.

Robin Hood rides again

Heartening to note how quickly the world of sports broadcasting has learned the Inverdale lesson. Take David Gower on Sky’s Ashes channel, where his banter with professional wine bore Serena “Sir Ian” Botham nourishes the Wildean legacy.  “We think she may be Maid Marian,” observed David on Friday as the camera settled on a plumpish woman in fancy dress. “She’s let herself go a bit …” Always a delight.

All-star family newspaper

Meanwhile, Botham unwittingly gives rise to a new high point in prissy asterisk history. The Daily Mail sports diary reports on fellow commentator David Lloyd’s recollection, in a book, of Botham’s Adelaide car-park ruck during the last Ashes series with old foe Ian Chappell.  “As Beefy passes Chappell,” writes Lloyd, “the former Aussie captain mutters ‘****’. Botham doesn’t break stride but replies, ‘Oh **** ***, you ****’.” Apart from the rebuke to those who placed sledging among the lower comedic forms, it’s the triple asterisk word that pleases most. Who knew that “off” is liable to censorship?

The land where no one lives happily ever after

Elsewhere, the Mail conquers its disdain for the scare story with a fairy tale catchily headlined: “The wolf at the door: First killer beast turns up in Holland for 150 years sparking fears they may soon arrive in Britain.” Intriguing stuff, though precisely how wolves plan to cross the North Sea is a mystery the report ignores. But if you find yourself on a ferry from the Hook of Holland to Harwich, and hear a lupine-looking creature in a granny’s shawl and bonnet whisper “Come closer, little girl”, be sure to ring the Mail news desk at once.

Getting big business to cough up

I am distressed to find David Cameron besmirched by suspicion over the U-turn on plain cigarette wrapping. It is too easy, with hindsight, to blame him for hiring Lynton Crosby, who has links to the pro-cigarette lobby, as election supremo. If only there had been a recent precedent of a first-term PM getting into bother by reversing an anti-cigarette advertising policy, possibly after lobbying from an acrylic-haired midget and possibly not, to guide his path.

Barber brooks no dissent

The Sunday Times finds front-page space to relate that Brendan Barber received a pay-off of just over £100,000 when he left his post as TUC general secretary. As ever when one of his titles raises this vexing issue, we would remind the relevant newspaper that Rupert Murdoch waved off Rebekah Brooks with a meagre £10.8m.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager (technical, applications, infrastructure)

£55000 - £60000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: IT Proj...

English Teacher (Bristol and South Gloucestershire)

Negotiable: Randstad Education Bristol: English teachers for day to day cover,...

Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Year 6 Teacher RequiredThis teaching...

SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's Stortford / Stansted

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Thumbs up at Facebook HQ  

We might not trust Amazon, Google and Facebook, but we should still give them a chance

Hamish McRae
 

Scottish independence: The polls all point towards a No win by the slimmest of margins

John Curtice
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week