Miliband’s Own Goal
Oh Ed, Ed, Ed. Why did you do it? Hold up a copy of the Sun Newspaper and stick it on Twitter for the World at Large to share in the cringe. This was a massive media fail on a few levels. Firstly, Miliband should have known better – he should have known that this desperate gesture to restore some credit with the Murdoch Empire would insult all of Liverpool and anyone who was affected by the Hillsborough disaster. It failed on the level of dissing Ed’s biggest achievement as Leader so far; his going after Murdoch specifically and standing up to Press Bully-Boy tactics specifically. People who were rooting for him just couldn’t believe he’d be so dumb. But Ed Miliband’s action (a mistake and we all make mistakes) probably came about after talking to his Advisors. Tom Watson MP has called for the firing of these advisors and he has a point; while ultimately the call was Ed’s, this was the last link in the chain of some very poor strategic and public relations advice. Miliband is still on course to be Prime Minister and he may turn out to be a very good one, but unforced errors like this one need to be guarded against lest Labour throw it away at the 2105 General Election. Ed Miliband may be part of the much mentioned Political Metropolitan Elite, but his instincts, beliefs and principles are in chime with Labour values. Millions of people are relying on them not to self-destruct. Great intellect alone will not win elections, as Gordon Brown found out in 2010; you need to get the basics in order before you look for votes.
ISIS – Terrorism Crosses Rubicon
ISIS – doesn’t sound like a particularly threatening name, does it? But this is a truly barbaric group that makes the Taliban look like moderates. Public executions, crucifixions, a return to what they call the ‘caliphate’. Their advance in Iraq is like a nightmare unfolding. Pity the Iraqis who are powerless to stop their advance. The response of the Left must not be predictable on this one; which would they rather – limited military support from the US with drones and missiles to back the Iraqi government or to sit back and let the terror-makers advance of Baghdad? Foreign Policy ‘Realists’ and the ‘Stop the War’ Left may be united on the issue of non-intervention in this instance; however, this is precisely the set of circumstances where limited intervention is justified. Obama is nothing if not astute; he will be weighing up his options such as co-operation with Iran, a vista thatwould have been unthinkable under his predecessor. There are no easy solutions in war but this one looks less complicated than most. Isis needs to be smashed; they are an evil organisation. There may well be a swifter reaction than usual from the West on this one; the clock is ticking and the Iraqi government, for all their many faults, has the sort of legitimacy that an entail of evolution like ISIS can never have. President Obama needs to act before he becomes a lame-duck; his instincts are such that many trust he will do the right thing. The long-suffering people of Iraq will be hoping he does the right thing too.
Europe’s Wrong Pick
Jean-Claude Juncker is not a name that comes tripping of the tongue. But it is a name that personifies all that the British Press dislikes about the European project and much of what the Progressive Left should be campaigning against too. Not only is he the consummate Christian Democrat ‘Eurocrat’ Insider, but his track record as being a Prime Minister of the worst offender of a Tax Haven in the EU, i.e. Luxembourg, makes him a most unsuitable candidate to be President of the European Commission. Although the Christian Democrats and other European Parliament groupings nominally ran as ‘slates’, i.e. it was announced in advance that the largest grouping would nominate the President and there were head-to-head debates on the issue, a miniscule percentage of voters would have taken this into account when they were casting their votes. ‘Europe’ has been good for many of the member nation-states but the perception of an unaccountable and imposed elite is a real one. Juncker’s nomination may be copper-fastened due to Britain’s opposition to his appointment; Cameron is now seen as a drag on the work of the Union. The Tories are seen as Little Englanders, and captives of the British Electorate and Press who, in the event that they remain in power after the next election, may preside over Britain leaving the EU. The skirmish over Jean-Claude Juncker would look quaint in comparison to a withdrawal from the EU. Cameron may not even be allowed to save face on this one; the Christian Democrats have had enough of his carry on. Luxembourg could give Britain a bloody nose.