Miliband’s over-blown gaffe

by Stephen Tall on February 9, 2007

I’m not too sure what David Miliband’s done to deserve his reputation as next-Labour-leader-but-one. (It won’t ever happen.)

But I will stick up for him today in the face of the rather pathetic reporting which has followed his supposed ‘gaffe’ that Gordon Brown will make an unpopular Prime Minister.

Here is what he said on last night’s Question Time:

“I predict that when I come back on this programme in six months’ or a year’s time, people will be saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have that Blair back, because we can’t stand that Gordon Brown.'”

The point he was quite evidently making – obvious to anyone with a scintilla of objectivity – was that being at the top guarantees you attract flak. And that, as people begin to view the past with red rose-tinted spectacles, Tony Blair will be increasingly highly regarded. (John Major’s resurrection among popular opinion, despite having led the most disastrous government of modern times, is testament to the redemptive power of impotence.)

Nothing controversial about that. However, a quick scan down today’s headlines suggests otherwise:

Indeed, thegrauniad chose to take Mr Miliband’s remark utterly out of context in their travesty of an article, Public could turn against Brown, warns Miliband:

The enviroment secretary warned that public opinion could quickly turn against the chancellor, with voters claiming: “We can’t stand that Gordon Brown.” [Do enjoy their spelling of ‘enviroment’ (sic) by the way.]

Time was when a gaffe meant a gaffe. Now it’s deployed by lazy journalists as an excuse to paraphrase ad absurdum an otherwise straightforward remark. Is it any wonder if politicians become ever more banal and tight-lipped in response?

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I couldn’t agree more Stephen.

What was most surprising was the way Dimbleby seized on it and ran with it – I initially thought he was joking but then he kept going when it was clear that what Milliband was actually saying is that the electorate are a bunch of myopic, amnesiac, ungrateful shits.

by Chrisco on February 9, 2007 at 5:40 pm. Reply #

gotta agree with this one, and not just for reasons of party loyalty. “gaffe” is a seriously debased word – when all we have here is “minister says something which he could have phrased a little better”.

by The Labour Humanist on February 9, 2007 at 6:43 pm. Reply #

I’d like to see you add a ‘My Other Gaffe’ section to your links bar at the right…

by Nathaniel Tapley on February 10, 2007 at 12:05 pm. Reply #

I agree. The media always complain that Politicans don’t answer questions ands then jump on anything that doesn’t sound like a sound bite. If he suffers any long term damage as result of this then we might as well all pack up and let David Steels entirely appointed House of Lords run the Country

by Cllr David Morton on February 10, 2007 at 5:26 pm. Reply #

true, but i can’t help but feel some context should be given to his statements…

the media has been after something concrete for now very over hyped blair brown divide since the year dot.

anyway if miliband did have a jovial spin machine it would have kicked this little gem out

by Anonymous on February 12, 2007 at 10:08 am. Reply #

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