I’ve just looked up this clip of an interview with Ed Miliband. It went viral at the time (two years ago already) and he must shudder every time he thinks of it, knowing it’s still out there in the Web, only a ten second google away for awkward buggers like me who remember it. At least I hope he does.
If you missed it in July 2011, you must take 2’30” to have your mind boggled. It’s utterly surreal. You’d like to think it’s a gag – someone in the sound lab set up a loop just to have a bit of fun. But it is – unfortunately, incredibly – real enough.
Charlie Brooker wrote of it:
The reporter asks him five different questions about the public sector strikes, and every time, Miliband says that he thinks the strikes are wrong while negotiations are still under way, that the government has acted in a reckless and provocative manner, and that it’s time for both sides to put aside the rhetoric and get round the negotiating table. He repeats identical phrases ad nauseam. It sounds like an interview with a satnav stuck on a roundabout.
The rest of that article is well worth reading for Brooker’s comments on managed reality and the quality of political debate. There’s also a link to this piece by the unfortunate journalist conducting the “interview”. That was the end of Miliband for me. Dead in the water.
That episode came to mind this morning as I read about Obama’s U-turn on Syria – he’s decided to seek Congressional approval after all. Congress, which knows a hot tater when it sees one, is I think unlikely to give him that approval, which will leave Obama stuck in the corner he’s painted himself into. In France, meanwhile, according to the polls, the weight of public opinion is against Hollande’s enthusiasm for going in to kick some ass, and that opposition will be strengthened and encouraged by the decision taken in the Commons.
Conclusion – all this could be the making of Miliband as the leader who un-poodled Britain, turned the USA around and brought the French to heel.
But what’s good for Miliband is not necessarily good for Britain and the world. I can’t forget that farce of an interview – the cynical arrogance of it. He’d no right to treat the press – and thus the public – with such disdain; no right to openly play me for a fool. The thought that such a man might acquire a major voice in world politics fills me with revulsion.