My older son takes a polite interest in politics. He's not obsessive about it, but knows who David Miliband is. "Is he running for prime minister?" he asked recently, having seen the fellow on some news clip. What an extraordinary question. I asked what had prompted it. "He's doing the voice," my son said, "and the gestures with his hands."
It's very hard for politicians to conceal themselves from the public. The great secret is revealed in a 10-second soundbite. Whatever Miliband was talking about, people heard the voice and saw the hands and came to a more informed conclusion than those who were concentrating on the words. That's not something the old politics has really caught up with yet.
So the old Prime Minister is setting his coming generation a poor example. His constant anti-Conservative bellowing is so self-serving that it does the opposite of what he wants. He describes the Tories in a kaleidoscope of smears, slanders, caricatures, falsehoods, falsifications, misrepresentations and crap. But voters must understand exactly what's going on, or they wouldn't be polling him at the level of Dr Crippen.
We look in vain for a glimpse of "the new politics". He burrows along in his own furrow making his "tough, long-term decisions". But when he rouses himself to give us an account of the political scene it bears as much relation to reality as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion bore to Jewry. For instance, he wants us to believe the Tories are plotting to have us withdraw from the EU. In one breath he will tell us they refused a referendum and rammed through two great pieces of Euro-engagement(Maastricht and the Single European Act) and in the next he says they want to pull us out.
It's what happens when politicians go across to the dark side. They produce these Protocols-style accounts to demonise their enemies and glamorise themselves.
David Miliband wants to be careful; he may not have written these Protocols of the Tory Elders, but from the European debate yesterday in the House, he is becoming a signatory. I hope he takes this in the spirit it's intended (extremely offensive, that is) because his fanclub outside parliament hoped he'd be too intelligent – or too young, or too modern, or too new – to go along with these quasi-pornographic fantasies.