Commons Confidential: Miliband’s historical muddle would horrify his Marxist historian father

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Lib Dem and Tory vultures are busy boasting that they’ll pick parts of Labour clean in Westminster after Brexit on 29 March next year. Potential defectors are being regularly named by multiple snouts. Conservative chatter may prove largely idle talk when the home of Jacob Rees-Mogg is unlikely to be the destination of choice for Labour parliamentarians waking up every morning humming “Ode to Joy”. The yellow peril sound notably more confident and Vince Cable is widely believed to have chatted conspiratorially with a particular Labour Europhile, plus a Tory, too. We’ll see.

One of the campaigners for parliament’s Carriage Gates to be renamed after PC Keith Palmer reports of resistance among the Westminster establishment. The whiff of snobbery is scented when Labour MP Matt Western’s Commons motion to honour the murdered police officer attracted 130 signatures, among the highest this session. Big Ben’s home was named the Elizabeth Tower to celebrate a monarch’s long life; I’m detecting growing unease among the nation’s lawmakers over the treatment of a commoner who died protecting democracy’s entrance.

Watching David Miliband’s walk-on part in a free TV advert for Tilda rice, a colleague of the lost Labour leader mockingly charged the elder Milibrother with lacking a grasp of history. Cited as evidence was an occasion in Gateshead when the then cabinet minister grandly announced to a meeting that he was delighted trade unions had chosen to join the Labour Party. The unions were, of course, among the birth parents in 1900. Miliband’s late father, Marxist historian Ralph, would have been horrified at the revisionism.

Labour general secretary Jennie Formby has deployed ex-MP Dave Anderson to mediate in a civil war between Emma Lewell-Buck and her South Shields party. The bitter clash appears to be personal, rather than political. Lewell-Buck accuses enemies of bullying and critics scream that she’s heavy-handed. The suspension of the hubby she’d employed as an aide over disputed allegations that he was abusive while working as a carer prompted Lewell-Buck, South Shields’s first woman MP, to complain loudly of a “vendetta” and a “campaign of hate”. Anderson, an avuncular former coal miner until riled, will need a UN peacekeeper’s blue helmet.

Is the Daily Mail’s editor fishing for a knighthood for services to the environment with the newspaper’s unlikely crusade to free our rivers and seas of plastic? The word on the street is that “Sir” Paul Dacre wouldn’t decline an honour to go with his Sussex country house, Scottish estate and, while they last, European Union farm subsidies. 

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.

This article first appeared in the 18 May 2018 issue of the New Statesman, Israel and the impossible war