The last few days have torn the UK apart. At a moment when the Tory party is riven in twain and ripe for pickings, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has imploded spectacularly. In the past 36 hours, 23 out of 31 shadow cabinet members have quit. It is in this context that I include the following.
“I See You” is a facebook site/page/bloke who writes some superb soliloquys about famous people, usually political. His one on David Miliband is superb. Ed Miliband, for the benefit of my international readers, was the leader of the Labour Party up until the last election, losing outright to the Tory party who have torn our country apart. He came to front the party in a bitter, bitter campaign against his brother David Miliband, who subsequently went off to brood in America. The media have kept the feud alive, and there appears to be an icy relationship between them still. David was seen at the time as better leadership material in many ways – more serious (some say remote and aloof), and so seen as more credible. As the Guardian last year reported:
The relationship between these two siblings irrevocably changed the day Ed decided he wanted to be leader of the Labour party, too. Both brothers, raised in an ultra-political household, had wanted to be prime minister since they were teenagers, a friend of their late father Ralph once revealed to me. Both believed – and still believe – their vision of social democracy was the correct one. But most siblings wouldn’t, of course, end up running against each other. Perhaps they underestimated, Ed in particular, how difficult it would be to go up against their own flesh and blood. Ultimately, political ambition trumped fraternal allegiance. “I don’t understand the dynamics between the two of them,” a former Labour cabinet minister and close friend of the Milibands has observed. “Have you met anyone who can properly explain it to you? I just simply don’t understand it.
Haunted by constant references to Cain and Abel (or is it Romulus and Remus?), the younger Miliband has spent the past few years trying to pretend that his relationship with his big brother is “on the mend” but it’s now abundantly clear that David has yet to forgive his little brother for standing against him and (narrowly) defeating him. The man once described by Tony Blair as the “Wayne Rooney of my cabinet” had dreamt of becoming Labour leader and then prime minister and yet his dream was snatched away by, of all people, his younger – and perhaps crucially – more leftwing brother. Much is made of “the so-called psychodrama of fratricide” says the friend of Ed, but David’s recent comments “reveal a political chasm between him and Ed” and are, thus, a reminder that the younger Miliband’s “decision to stand for the leadership was about the ideological difference between them”.
David has been living in British political wilderness, in New York. But now, as “I See You” claims, it could be his time. I love this (warning – sweary):
I see you, David Miliband.
I see your likeable face and your easy smile, all professionalism and dignified charm. I see the hurt in your eyes back in 2010, when your brother turned on you and cast you down. That worked out well for him, didn’t it? He managed to convince the Labour Party to throw out the banana and keep the skin and now everything’s gone to shit. Of course, you had your own adventures to head off to, didn’t you David Miliband? Alistair Campbell nicknamed you ‘Brains’ and it became a self-fulfilling prophecy when you buggered off and joined International Rescue. You boarded the ship and sailed off in to the mist, never looking back over your shoulder. Without a throne your homeland held nothing for you.
But the wheel kept turning in your absence, David Miliband, and the Game of Thrones rolls on.
It’s been a bit of a clusterfuck, hasn’t it? Let’s be honest, I’m not sure anyone expected it to actually happen. Westeros has voted to cut its ties with the Iron Bank and get behind the inbred blonde one, mostly because we all wanted to tell the Lannisters to shove their offshore gold up their collective arses – even though the inbred blonde one is secretly more of a Lannister than anyone else. It’s been one of the most disastrously ill-managed political shitfests of all time, turning us against each other, playing on our fears and widening the rifts between us. We’ve been lied to from every angle, fed nonsense figures and snarled at with the threat of doom and destruction. Johnson and Gove let Farage rove around the countryside with the Bellends Without Banners, letting him stoop to dog-whistle racism, blaming immigrants for the massive shortfalls in public infrastructure that years of austerity cuts have caused. He claims that Brexit won ‘without a single shot being fired’ despite the fact we all know that to be untrue. We’re waking up to a new reality where the people admiring us for our gumption are the far right across Essos. We’ve emboldened the snarling skinheads and I fucking hate Thenns.
It’s too easy to point fingers and attribute blame for all this. I was guilty of it too – anger at an older generation that seemed to have voted selfishly, fearful that we’d chosen bigotry over inclusion. It’s not that simple and it’s too reductive to claim it is. 52% of the country aren’t racists but we have to accept accountability for the fact that such fearful campaigning has now convinced the few thugs among us that half the country agrees with them. We have to come together to shut that down regardless of which way we voted. We have to accept that even though nearly half of us wanted to stay, there’s no denying that the Iron Bank is kind of a dick and plenty of every generation were tired of it trying to extend its reach. The few voices that pointed out the benefits of the union, the few that campaigned positively, were too meek and reluctant to reach across party lines. Any hope of a consistent and clear message was more mangled than this torturous Game of Thrones metaphor I’m stubbornly clinging to. Thenns don’t even come from Essos – I’m as confused as anyone.
‘We want our country back’ was a clearer message than anything the Left managed, even when its connotations were hijacked by fascists. ‘£350 million a week for the NHS’ was the kind of staggering number that made it stark and obvious just how much money we thought we were wasting, even when it turned out to be an outright lie. ‘We’ll have control of our own laws and our own democracy’ seemed like a simple conclusion, even if it meant handing that democracy over to the heartless bastards we trust so little that we take our own fucking pens to the polling stations. ‘We’ve had enough of unelected bureaucrats,’ so it’s time for the Conservative leader to resign so we can replace him with an unelected bureaucrat who pledges allegiance to a fucking Queen. ‘We can control our own borders,’ even though no government has ever succeeded in controlling immigration from outside the EU and it looks like we’ll still have to sign up to free movement from within it to continue accessing the single market. ‘Time will tell and eventually we’ll be alright.’ Bloody hell, I hope that’s true. Who knows, it might even turn out to be. The irony, of course, is that we just might have delivered the kick up the arse the EU needs to sort out its many issues and by then it’ll be too late for us to benefit from any of the reforms.
It doesn’t fill me with confidence that when it comes to the Brexit politicians it doesn’t even feel like a victory. Farage flapped his impossibly unhinged gob and partied for a bit but now he’s been locked out in the cold. Cameron took his ball and went home, refusing to trigger Article 50 and instead handing that poisoned chalice over to Johnson and Gove. He was like the dad telling his kids to stop kicking the ball over in to the neighbour’s garden. Now there’s been a massive crash and the greenhouse is fucked and Johnson’s looking around sheepishly, expecting someone else to go next door and negotiate just how we clean up the mess because he always expected to become Head Boy and he doesn’t want to jeopardise that by getting in trouble. Meanwhile, two doors down Nicola Sturgeon pops her head over the wall and thinks about putting a fence up because she doesn’t want to let that boisterous little shit anywhere near her greenhouse either, and across the street Gerry Adams just wants an excuse to knock that wall through into the terrace next door and this seems like a good opportunity to apply for planning permission again.
The Tories have never been such a catastrophic mess, so now would really be an opportune time for some consistent opposition. Well good fucking luck with that. Corbyn managed to get more Labour voters to opt for Remain than even the SNP did, but his lead – regardless of how well intended – has felt ineffectual and weak and too muddled by his own opposition to some of the EU’s excesses. Regardless of that, he could’ve single-handedly knocked on every door in the country and convinced them to vote Remain and it still wouldn’t have been enough for a media that just don’t like him and a party whose own MPs seek to hamstring him at every turn. The Labour party has become a snake eating its own arse at a time when there’s a whole fucking buffet left unattended. Half the shadow cabinet have gone in the vain hope of a prodigal son returning to save the fucking day, and what are the chances of that?
I see you, David Miliband.
I see you at the helm of the great warship, its prow cutting through the surf in the night, the ropes creaking in the still air. I see the ropes thrown down into the dock, the men dismounting, scurrying like ants to secure the ship. I see you grin, David Miliband. You’ve returned, having sailed the world and left Westeros to its own devices. You walked the ruins of the Doom of Blairlyria (fucking hell, this really is tenuous now) and saw how the hubris of kings can lead to ruin. Not this time, David Miliband. This time you’ve returned, Miliband Crows-Eye, and the Socialistone Chair will be yours.
I see the wind whipping around the twin towers of the castle, the waves crashing against the rocks. I see the rope bridge swinging in the gale, the old man crossing the boards, his feet less steady than they once seemed. I see you, David Miliband, half-hidden in the gloom of the torchlight, stepping forward to confront him. True, he’s been a principled king. And true, TTIP sounds like a right fucking mess and he’s quite right to oppose it. But this is the Game of Thrones and you win or you die.
I see Corbyn Greyjoy plunge howling into the night, his body dashed to pieces on the rocks below.
I see you laugh, Miliband Crows-Eye, for you know what’s next. Next you hold the Kingsmoot, and your brother, Ed Damplips, will crown you ruler of the Labour Party, blubbering his apologies for his arrogance. The kingdom may be smaller than the one you were first promised. But you have a plan. You’ll sail to Scotland and tell Nicola Sturgeon to build you a thousand ships.
I see you, David Miliband. I fucking see you.