Alex Massie

David Miliband Makes a Fool of Himself

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I'm not convinced I share James's view that David Cameron's "1940 moment" counts as a howler, far less a "quite spectacular mistake" (and I suspect James doesn't really think it that either). It's pretty obvious that the Prime Minister simply slipped-up. I think he knows that in 1940 the United States had yet to enter the war and that it's abundantly obvious that he meant to say that the UK was the US's junior partner "in the 1940s".

We know this because in his interview with Sky News Cameron was repeating lines he used in his Wall Street Journal column this week in which he wrote:

I am hard-headed and realistic about U.S.-U.K. relations. I understand that we are the junior partner—just as we were in the 1940s and, indeed, in the 1980s. But we are a strong, self-confident country clear in our views and values, and we should behave that way.

Anyway, sensible journalists this evening have been asking if Cameron's acknowledgement of reality is daringly "bold" or risky or reckless or god knows what else.

The interesting, perhaps revealing, thing in all this flap-about-nothing-at-all is David Miliband's reaction. He tweeted:

 1940 was "our finest hour". We stood alone v fascism. How can a British PM get that wrong? Its [sic] a slight not a slip.

Put it this way: whatever you think of him, could you imagine Cameron reacting in such juvenile fashion had Gordon Brown or Tony Blair made such a slip of the tongue? For that matter, I can't imagine Blair or Brown responding in this manner - and publicly too - had John Major erred in comparable ways. (Alastair Campbell is, obviously, a different matter.)

One ought not read too much into a single tweet but there's something about Miliband's wilfull stupidity that suggests he's still not quite ready for prime time.

(Labour supporters may complain that Gordon Brown would have been pilloried for making such an error. They'd be right to so complain too. Brown, whatever his faults, was frequently treated appallingly by our vindictively obtuse press corps. So, mind you, was John Major.)

Still, I suspect all this means that the Silly Season has arrived early this year and, consequently, it's time for everyone to take a holiday.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articlePoliticsdavid miliband