David Miliband’s decision to step down from “front-line” politics says nothing about his relationship with his brother, nor about their political differences.
But it does speak volumes about the state of political journalism.
That one of the best minds in modern politics feels he cannot be part of a much needed and effective opposition, simply because the meedja are unable to present a political story without resorting to soap-opera tactics of narrative is massively ridiculous.
Annoyingly though, he’s right.
With no sense of irony or self-awareness, BBC News this evening cut from him talking about coverage becoming distracted by something easier to present than politics, they cut to his exchange with Harriet Harmon.
It’s a sad day indeed when we are deprived of someone who shaped Government for a decade, simply because Laura Kuennesberg is so facile she can’t get past the idea of a family feud. That the two brothers worked for opposing wings of the party throughout their careers doesn’t occur to her, because until now they weren’t on her radar. She had more important things to cover – like the feud between Tony and Gordon.
The embodiment of this vacuous journalism is of course Nick Robinson. He seems much more interested in getting his own face on camera than asking a pertinent question, or presenting a nuanced policy. Witness his interview with David Miliband this evening, in which his own head took up more of the screen than his subject.
I’m as guilty as the next person of drawing simplistic conclusions about politicians. Indeed, I can’t get past the fact that Ed Miliband sounds like a bowl of washing up; but is it too much to ask that the coverage of a party conference involve some of the politics and policies, and not just the psycho-drama fantasies of frustrated soap writers?
What’s more, the fact that David’s decision to slip away from the front-benches is seen by these reporters as some kind of resignation from real politics is remarkable. If it doesn’t go on within a few yards of their Westminster studio, it doesn’t count. Constituency politics is the backbone of British democracy, but the way they tell it, he’s off to dig his garden.
Tell me he doesn’t sound like a bowl of washing up …