Bird that Sings

October 2, 2010

The Brother Miliband

Filed under: Politics,Uncategorized — Tags: , — admin @ 2:22 pm

 “The desired effect is what you get when you practice your interplanetary funksmanship”—George Clinton

Though I can think of a few people funkier than the Miliband brothers, David and Ed, it is indisputable that their contest for the leadership of British Labour Party created, in the end, the desired effect for the Party, measurably strengthening it for the struggles ahead.

The central dilemma for Labour Party members in this election was whether to support David Miliband, the most credible and accomplished candidate in the field — who also conducted the broadest and most interesting campaign — knowing that by electing him Leader, they risked revivifying the now discredited New Labour, Blairite establishment of the Party.

Astonishingly, and by a very, very slim margin, the Labour Party said no, implicitly rejecting the old status quo. Instead they elected the younger brother, Ed Miliband, less because of who he is, than what he’s not.

In his acceptance speech Tuesday, Ed Miliband, echoing John F Kennedy, declared that he was in fact the candidate of a new generation, and that New Labour is dead. Whatever his failings, Mili-E is certainly correct about these twined suppositions.

For me personally however, the most interesting part of the speech was where Mili-E begins to hold forth about Values.

“I believe in responsibility in every part of our society . . .

What does it say about the values of our society, what have we become, that a banker can earn in a day what the care worker can earn in a year?

I say: responsibility in this country shouldn’t just be about what you can get away with.

And that applies to every chief executive of every major company in this country.

And, just as businesses have responsibility to ensure fair pay, so those who can work have a responsibility to do so…

…Work is a central part of life. But it is not all that matters.

We all care about making a living but we don’t just care about that.

Here is our generation’s paradox: the biggest ever consumers of goods and services, but a generation that yearns so much for the things that business cannot provide…

…New Labour embraced markets in our economy and was right to do so.
But let’s be honest, we became naïve about them.

We must never again give the impression that we know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

In eschewing ideological politics for the politics of values, it is not so much JFK that Miliband is invoking but Robert Kennedy: yes, the younger brother. And the red thread that runs through the values argument is not the Socialist argument of Ralph Miliband, the Jewish immigrant Marxist father of the brothers, but rather a strain of radical Catholic thought that also ran through Robert Kennedy’s late political framework.

For a politician who will need to confront both the hegemony and destructive immorality of the world political-economic order as well the furious, defeated neo-liberal wing of his own Party, this is a clever stance, and it might just win the day for Ed Miliband.

It is also an argument tailor made for opposing the draconian budget cuts that the current Tory-Liberal government is about to implement even in the teeth of the ongoing long… recession. By this time next year, or even next spring, as the streets of British cities fill with rage and protest, it is the values argument against the immorality of a Finance driven system, utterly without them, that will hold sway on the streets of the UK.

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