David Miliband’s party tips

The key to success? “Get the nibbles in.”

The Labour leadership contender David Miliband has published a six-page guide for supporters on how to throw a house party, which includes such pearls of wisdom as "Get the nibbles in", "Decide on the people you want to invite" and "Invite them".

The guide, part of an attempt to emulate Barack Obama's grass-roots campaign strategy of getting supporters to hold "house meetings" that broaden the candidate's appeal, also includes a suggested timetable for the evening. Hosts are advised to return home from work at 5.30 and "give the place a quick vacuum". Guests will start arriving at 7pm, at which point you must take their coats and "more importantly, get them to fill in the sign-in sheet".

After two whole hours of sex, drugs and nibbles -- and perhaps even a screening of this video address by David Miliband himself -- the party should end at 9pm sharp. "Finish the meeting with a thank you for the commitments people have made," the guide says. (And make sure nobody has passed out in the cupboard under the stairs, no doubt.)

In response to criticism that the guide was "patronising", a spokeswoman for the Mililband campaign told BBC News: "If you want to be leader you need to know how to organise a party . . . It's not a diktat. It's light-hearted. You can tell from the tone of it."

Reports cannot be confirmed that David's brother and fellow leadership contender, Ed, has hired the rock musician Andrew WK -- aka "THE KING OF PARTYING" -- to advise on his own house meeting strategy. Andrew WK's "party tips", which he issues to his followers on Twitter, include the following:

"Life isn't about waiting for the rain to pass. It's about partying hard in the rain and getting wet!"

"Sometimes the best things in life aren't free. GO TO A FASTFOOD RESTAURANT TODAY!"

"Ponder the fact that if your parents hadn't partied, you wouldn't exist."

"Take a giant sea turtle, and gently remove its shell. Then fill the shell with chips and dip!"

And, most importantly:

"Always remember to pleasure yourself."

Grass-roots activists, take note.

Daniel Trilling is the Editor of New Humanist magazine. He was formerly an Assistant Editor at the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Scotland's vast deficit remains an obstacle to independence

Though the country's financial position has improved, independence would still risk severe austerity. 

For the SNP, the annual Scottish public spending figures bring good and bad news. The good news, such as it is, is that Scotland's deficit fell by £1.3bn in 2016/17. The bad news is that it remains £13.3bn or 8.3 per cent of GDP – three times the UK figure of 2.4 per cent (£46.2bn) and vastly higher than the white paper's worst case scenario of £5.5bn. 

These figures, it's important to note, include Scotland's geographic share of North Sea oil and gas revenue. The "oil bonus" that the SNP once boasted of has withered since the collapse in commodity prices. Though revenue rose from £56m the previous year to £208m, this remains a fraction of the £8bn recorded in 2011/12. Total public sector revenue was £312 per person below the UK average, while expenditure was £1,437 higher. Though the SNP is playing down the figures as "a snapshot", the white paper unambiguously stated: "GERS [Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland] is the authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances". 

As before, Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the threat posed by Brexit to the Scottish economy. But the country's black hole means the risks of independence remain immense. As a new state, Scotland would be forced to pay a premium on its debt, resulting in an even greater fiscal gap. Were it to use the pound without permission, with no independent central bank and no lender of last resort, borrowing costs would rise still further. To offset a Greek-style crisis, Scotland would be forced to impose dramatic austerity. 

Sturgeon is undoubtedly right to warn of the risks of Brexit (particularly of the "hard" variety). But for a large number of Scots, this is merely cause to avoid the added turmoil of independence. Though eventual EU membership would benefit Scotland, its UK trade is worth four times as much as that with Europe. 

Of course, for a true nationalist, economics is irrelevant. Independence is a good in itself and sovereignty always trumps prosperity (a point on which Scottish nationalists align with English Brexiteers). But if Scotland is to ever depart the UK, the SNP will need to win over pragmatists, too. In that quest, Scotland's deficit remains a vast obstacle. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.