March 2013

Banana boy outward bound

David Miliband unable to rescue his party goes to America

The banana and the man The banana and the man
Back in the summer of 2008 we wrote this at the time David Miliband was being heavily promoted by his party and sympathetic press alike. Generally speaking the message was the man is a genius. Well how wrong can you be? And now years later he's off to America. Fraser Nelson says of the new job

then we find out that David Miliband is off to run the real-life International Rescue in New York. Life is mirroring art, or at least British politics is mirroring Thunderbirds.

In the Gerry Anderson ITV puppet show the character, Brains, that Miliband was compared to was horribly nerdy. He was a plodding techno who acted as a foil to the more dashing pilots and other characters.

As Foreign Secretary Miliband frequently made gaffes that showed him up as awkward and unthinking. His social skills let him down at home too. The Labour party demands a particular brand of behaviour from its Ministers. A complex web of forces within the party requires constant attention if the Minister is to survive. Miliband showed himself incapable of dealing with this, it was too subtle for him. Despite the backing of Tony Blair he never made it to the top of his party.

More from Andrew Gilligan

HS2 and Hacked Off get the drubbing they deserve

Gilligan and bicycleGilligan and bicycle
We have praised the work of Andrew Gilligan before, he has an eye for transport matters, he is the Cycling Commissioner for Mayor of London Boris Johnson. And has been following the HS2 saga. His report in the Telegraph sums it up well, recommended reading, as so is this. For stupidity the HS2 ranks alongside global warming and in a similar fashion has fiddled statistics to 'back it up'.

Next Gilligan looks at press regulation. You may say it's just a journalist looking after himself and his trade following severe ctiticism of the ethics of some newspapers. No that's too simple.

An ever larger problem

Can Mark help George?

Mark Carney, praying for the UK economy? Mark Carney, praying for the UK economy?
An ever closer union is the mantra of the EU, but is this possible beyond the sharing of debt and juggling of liabilities? And another question, what to do about Cyprus, what do the money men think? From an article in the Telegraph by Harry Wilson -

Jim O'Neill, outgoing chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. said the eurozone had revealed again that it was a group of 17 countries with very different interests. He said that most deals seemed to be about what politicians thought they could "get away with" in their parliaments. "The European Monetary Union (EMU) in effect continues to be a union of 17 countries that don't see their collective shared interests as the same," Mr O'Neill said. "Much decision making is not actually decided by the European Union or eurozone bodies but by key politicians whose main criteria is what they 'can get away with' with respect to their parliaments. "Can EMU ultimately survive. or indeed, can EMU survive with this system?

It's worth remembering that while Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. failed the stress test of the present world recession Goldman Sachs has prospered. So what O'Neill says is worth listening to, it's true and although not mentioned by name the most significant key politician is Angela Merkel.

Making amends, more on Nick Cohen

Unsavoury aspects of journalism explained

Isabel Oakeshott Isabel Oakeshott
In this post we took Nick Cohen to task for getting more than a few things wrong. So praise where praise is due for Cohen has looked at the Huhne-Pryce story from a different perspective and what he writes is excellent. Cohen has gone behind what a lot of the MSM saw as the story, the Huhne-Pryce divorce and family feud, to the behaviour of Sunday Times journalist Isabel Oakeshott. Just days before the Cohen post Richard North wrote of the Huhne-Pryce media splash -

There can be no doubt about the number one political story of the moment – as far as the personality-obsessed media goes: the conviction of Vicky Price. We are left with the prospect of her, and her former husband, Chris Huhne going to jail in the near future.

The problem here is that it would be wrong to convey the notion that all of the media is personality-obsessed, certainly that's not true of Cohen. It would also be wrong to overlook the fact that both Huhne and Pryce are very troubled people with personality problems. Certainly Huhne should never have had anything to do with public money and should never have held the position of MP or Minister.

A film about a referendum

Chile the UK and EU: compare and contrast

Chile 1988Chile 1988
In 1988 due to political pressure from world leaders Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte, usually referred to as President Augusto Pinochet, was forced to hold a referendum on his leadership. As a General in the Chilean Army but supported by fellow officers in the Navy, Air Force and Police he had taken power in 1973 by force from the elected Socialist President Salvador Allende.The years 1973 - 1988 were a disaster for many Chileans, the armed services and police were brutal there was no free press and massive corruption.

The film by Pablo Larraín, born in Chile in 1973, is about, René, a young advertising executive and short film maker who is working for the NO campaign, the consortium who wish to see an end to the hated Pinochet. Life in Chile in 1988 was never easy or without complications. René as a junior partner in the advertising agency finds his boss works for the YES campaign but this never shows itself as a problem, typical of the many absurdities the Chilean people had to cope with. And quite a mild form of irritant when placed alongside the more brutal and sometimes lethal possibilities that could come their way. The 1988 Chilean referendum was by no means the first political campaign to use advertising techniques.