It really has been the strangest of weeks and it has left me feeling curmudgeonly. On Monday I heard David Cameron give an eminently reasonable speech to Conservative Friends of Israel. Surrounded by people my teenage self would have despised, I realised that this was a speech Ed Miliband could not have made, although there is cross-party consensus on universal jurisdiction, the status of the settlements and the Gaza blockade. Miliband left it to Ed Balls this week to announce Labour support for the new Police Bill (this legislation contains the change to the law on universal jurisdiction, which passes authority for granting arrest warrants for visiting politicians to the Director of Public Prosecutions).
But the Labour leader really does need to get a grip in the area of international affairs. Tom Baldwin will be a robust spin doctor and it is important that the former Times journalist has finally made his role as Labour propagandist explicit. But foreign affairs remain a problem for Labour.
As I write, neo-con David Frum asks whether the UN should declare a Palestinian state. His analysis is subtle and nuanced. I find the idea of UN recognition of Palestinian statehood compelling, but so is Frum’s argument that, in reality, this may turn out to be just another delaying tactic. “The hunt is on for ways to postpone a settlement, prolong the conflict and extend the hope that Israel will collapse.”
Where will Ed Miliband turn for advice in this area? It is really unclear.