Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Occupational hazard?

The Labour leader told the BBC he "did not deliberately" drop the passages on the deficit and immigration but his approach was to write a text in advance and use it as the basis for his speech - which meant things were added in and left out on the day. 
Well, he does have form in this area...

From December 2012:
'Labour insisted Mr Miliband ‘stands by’ the omitted section of his speech and had simply forgotten to say it. 
So what happened? Did he really forget about that bit or, looking round at his distinctly multicultural - sorry, vibrant - audience, did he decide that discretion was the better part of valour? "Look, it's great that you're all here, but it was, you know, a bit of a mistake letting you in".
Miliband admits he left out details which appeared in the published versions circulated to the faithful but believes that his 'style' works even at the expense of content:
"There are perils that come with that obviously but what people got a sense of yesterday was a plan to change our country."
That has the authentic ring of 21st-century politics; never mind the quality, feel the pitch. Either he is genuinely so disorganised that he can't follow notes or he is cynical enough to omit a potentially awkward element from a live speech while including it in the printed record.

Whichever is the real reason, it doesn't exactly inspire confidence in his abilities as a leader.


Meanwhile, as the Labour conference draws to a close, I always like to remember that the writer of  their final song never meant his words to be set to the solemn and ponderous German tune of 'Tannenbaum', memorably described by George Bernard Shaw as 'a funeral march for a fried eel'.

He intended 'The Red Flag' to be sung to the altogether more sprightly melody of the Jacobite song 'The White Cockade', which, I think you'll agree, would have given a far more festive air to the closing ceremonies.


  1. "or he is cynical enough to omit a potentially awkward element from a live speech while including it in the printed record."

    As you show, he's done it before so I think we can classify Ed as a liar. He didn't forget, it's a technique.

  2. He's a politician - therefore he is a liar.

  3. Mind you, I left out a whole page of my wedding speech in 1972, and we're still married...

    What that's got to do with your excellent post, I don't really know, but I thought I should record the fact for posterity, and here seems the best place!

  4. AKH, it makes you wonder how many similar strategies lurk in the arsenals of either party. Certainly it's exactly the sort of thing we were instructed in back in my Labour Student days - our scruples were dismsissed because the Socialist Utopia end justified the means, however despicable.

    LT, as true today as it ever was in the days of Ancient Greece or the Roman Republic (though less likely to end in a cup of hemlock or with their heads on poles in the Forum).

    Michael, congratulations on clocking up 40+ years; fortunately for you, a new bridegroom is traditionally the object of much affectionate indulgence (and wedding guests usually appreciate brevity)- though miss out some bits of the vows and it might have been be a different story.

  5. The words to The Red Flag might go well to the tune of "My Old Man's A Dustman", the Skiffle song by Lonnie Donegan. At least it is proletarian.

  6. Truth is a word once mentioned in legends.

  7. Demetrius, thanks to you I've had a mental version of 'One song to the tune of another' rattling round my head ever since. My favourite so far is 'Step in Time' from 'Mary Poppins' - imagine the assembled Labour dignitaries prancing in unison across the platform.

    JH, I thought I was cynical...


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