David Miliband made a serious error when he took the foreign secretaryship. The job was his pound of flesh for supporting a mad dog, when his clear duty was to shoot the dog. But Brown smiled to himself (and made a ribald crack to colleagues) after banana-man had accepted it: for it was a marvellous way to get Miliband away from Westminster for long periods.
Now at last ‘Wayne’ Miliband, Tony Blair’s perfect striker, has an excuse to be high profile again, because there’s an election on. He used it today to suggest that (yawn) David Cameron should break Lord Ashton’s ties with the Tory Party. The story that keeps on rising without trace has done it again.
Mr Miliband is living proof of what I call the Monopoly of Virtue syndrome that infects much of the Left, and all those at the top in New Labour. With a pathological liar in Number Ten (and a corrupt money-grubbing degenerate having been the predecessor) a person with anything less that lead skin would be inclined towards silence on the subject of ethics. But not David.
For nearly two years the Foreign Secretary was heard praising the virtues of Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai, but he in turn has proved to be more bent than a croquet pin. Before that he gave stern, action-free warnings to everyone from Mugabe to Medvedev. As usual, he looks and sounds like the kid in the playground starting a fight, and then offering to hold everyone’s coats.
When James Purnell rightly made a stand about Brown’s hopelessly ineffectual leadership, he too expected David Miliband to join him. He didn’t, and the two men haven’t spoken since.
When the last lot of plotters tried to place a satchel-bomb near New Labour’s deranged Fuhrer late last year, they didn’t have anything to offer David except the knowledge that he’d be doing the right thing. But having heard the Fuhrer’s voice on the telephone, he soon left the Resistance dangling by piano wire.
If you’re not a student of history, this latter reference is a parallel using the 1944 Stauffenberg Bomb plot against Hitler. No Stauffenberg he, Miliband cowered in his Ministry for much of the key day, until eventually a senior Cabinet minister rang him to suggest he ‘make his f**king mind up’. Only then did Miliband emerge sheepishly.
I don’t know a single senior Westminster or Whitehall figure whose judgement I rate who thinks highly of the man. Which is odd really, because you know where you are with the Foreign Secretary: he always lets you down.