At the End of the Day

Ed Miliband, the man who died before he was born

It’s largely fun stuff tonight. The main reasons for this are first, there’s a lot of unintentionally funny stuff around today; and second, I’ve had a week of asking shadowy people about cyber-attacks, and I need some light relief.

Probably the most unintentionally hilarious thing in the world at the moment is the UK’s Labour Party: but there’s no doubt at all about who is the most ridiculous thing in it (in every sense of the word) and that’s poor Ed Miliband. I heard an online newscaster speak the following words this morning about the new opinion poll on Big Ed:

“Mr Miliband’s latest approval rating stands at minus 53 – the lowest since he became Party leader”.

You have to ask, where the hell did he start? Over to our resident spin Practice Nurse….

“Well, Ed started at 0, which is quite normal actually, and as we all know, new Labour leaders tend to struggle in their first few months, so all things considered, you know, Ed’s doing quite well really”.

I’m not the sort to kick a man when he’s down; but equally, I’m also not the kind of commentator who thinks starting at nought and going backwards by 53 points is doing anything less than very badly. In Haringey, maybe it’s good: in the rest of the world, it isn’t even slightly good: it’s dreadful.

The truly, terribly, skin-creepingly awful thing about the decision by the Labour Party to vote Ed in as leader was that, for all of us fortunate enough to be over 50 years old, it gave out the most 3D, technicolor, quadrophonic, digitally remastered deja vu in British political history.

I refer of course to the decision in the 1980s by the Labour Party to elect an  upper class former Communist in a donkey-jacket to be its leader. This decision – the excuse for exuberant rejoicing by bourgeois Brezhnevites and Oxbridge Bennites for months afterwards – left the entire country to the somewhat less than tender mercies of the Mad Handbag for a generation, and accelerated my journey across the political spectrum from liberal to a place as yet ill-defined….but which of late I have been calling Radical Realism.

But here’s the tragi-comic part: there are still 3% more Britishers prepared to stamp out to the polling booth and vote for Ed Miliband than would perform the same feat on behalf of the Camerlot.

So let us turn for a para or two in the direction of another Upper Class twit, and speculate about why the man with the upside-down gumshield is preferred to the man looking down his nose at us – but pretending not to.

Dave came to power with a eurocrat and an Essex privacy-invader in tow. The latter had failed to sell him to the other people in Essex, and so the former – Nick Clegg – became a necessary evil. If such a thing is possible, things got steadily worse.

A series of uncomfortable physical movements followed in slow succession. There were reflections, listening sessions, U-turns, rollovers, humiliations, course corrections, postponements and then abandonments. One by one, euroscepticism, the maintenance of sovereignty, democraticisation of the police, spending cuts, welfare reform, sanity in further education,  and the bonfire of the Quangos fell by the wayside or into darkly pragmatic ‘solutions’. Nick Clegg, meanwhile, decided to take his 2011 electoral disaster out on the NHS, harrying every useful clause in the Bill (there weren’t many) until the Coalition was left wondering what to do next. The Liberal Democrats hailed this as ‘a  major victory’. Paddy Ashdown declared that Clegg had “played a blinder”.

Meanwhile, Camerlot’s proposed answer to growing criminal charges against the Murdoch-controlled Newscorp was to fast-track the group’s permission to become the main competitor to the BBC. Himself a personal friend of the company’s CEO (herself implicated in the criminal conspiracy) and the recipient of unstinting electoral support from Murdoch’s newspapers, the Prime Minister saw no conflict of interest in this at all – and indeed, at the height of the controversy – said in public that he thought nepotism and the old school tie were, on the whole, a jolly good thing.

I have just had to restrain myself from sending a donation to Ed Miliband, a feat I achieved by reading the first part of my own piece above. This is the state of British politics in 2011.


Let us glance now across the Atlantic, and once again visit that centre of hallowed liberal democracy, The Huffington Post. In a piece interestingly entitled Men Behaving Badly, feminist Marie Wilson drivelled on at length about what swines Strauss-Kahn and Wiener are (on the whole, I’m inclined to agree), before taking a gigantic leap towards this conclusion:

‘Norway’s successful legislation guaranteed that 40% of the seats at publicly traded companies would go to women; countries throughout Europe and beyond are following suit. You can’t convince me these gutsy moves won’t change how the work gets done.’

Nor me, Marie: what they will do is banish meritocracy from the panoply of corporate decision-making….in favour of an accident of birth.

Mzzzz Wilson describes herself as ‘An advocate of women’s rights for more than thirty years’. Well, that’s ten years less than me Marie, so listen up to someone of older and more mature vintage: forget your gender, and remember the Constitution.

So, I hear you ask, where’s the funny bit. It’s just coming – so to speak. Writing of the guilty-as-accused blokes, Marie observed that, ‘Along with these tales of sexual abuse and impropriety has come a very powerful blowback’.

So that’s how the DNA got on the maid’s uniform.


I’ve just finished watching BBC1’s Panorama programme on mis-selling by UK banks. It brought back a lot of memories, none of them good.

Among the gems in this excellent programme were that close on 10,000 Brits complain about their banks every day. I mean, they can’t all be born moaners, can they? Only if they were, right, that means that statistically we all (on average) complain about our banks in a given year. Or put another way, none of us like the banks. That sounds about right.

On giving up the office in 2001, I remember our IFA losing 20% of my pension pot in the first three years, and Lloyds Bank losing 25% of our capital outside the pension…having flagrantly missold us the bond in the first place. I don’t mean by this they were ‘economical with the truth’: I mean, they lied about everything.

Since then, Jan has done all the interest rate research, admin, and placement of monies; and I’ve put to her all the ideas about investment opportunities and chosen where to bet – while employing a private, fee-paid wealth management group to work on a straightforward basis: no gains, no fee.

For me, it beggars belief that apologists still exist for the reptiles who inhabit financial services in general, and banks in particular. I suppose they have to apologise, because otherwise they’d have to face something even worse: that a small number of greedy, unprincipled and criminal scam artists took Britain to the cleaners….on both an individual and macro-economic level.

I have no doubt that the Beeb-haters will have seen much of tonight’s episode as hard-Left propaganda. But in truth, it has been the shared experience of everyone in this country trying to put their capital to work, or build a business. Would Newscorp Television have produced such a programme? Of course not…Murdoch would’ve been playing for the other side.