David Blackburn

The Hague Miliband Euro-feud hots up

The Hague Miliband Euro-feud hots up
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Much has been made of David Miliband’s vitriol against the Tories and their EU parliament grouping, and the intimation that Eric Pickles is Anti-Semitic. William Hague complained yesterday, and has now formalised that complaint by writing to the Foreign Secretary, highlighting the factual errors and misconceptions that dominated Miliband’s speech. Hague ends the letter by writing:

‘Democratic politics is at its best when it is a civilised and constructive debate between different points of view. It is deeply regrettable that you have listened to those who prefer the politics of slur and smear. Your duty as the country’s Foreign Secretary is to support our nation’s good relations with our allies. By putting your immediate partisan interests before that duty you have fallen short in that responsibility.’

The Foreign Secretary should not make such slurs without factual certainty full stop, and certainly never for party political gain. The episode displayed Miliband’s fundamental immaturity; he was simply playing to the gallery. There is a wider political point also. The most memorable snapshots from the Labour conference are Tony Woodley’s melodramatic, almost camp dismembering of a copy of the Sun, and the relentless slurs of the Conservatives. The party is listless and bereft of positive political language and is visibly frustrated by its predicament. That the slurs are without basis only compounds the difficulties.