Sibling Rivalry

I guess you have to have a brother to appreciate the evil genius of Ed Milliband’s stealth insult to his brother David during his acceptance speech as the new Labour leader. It was beautifully crafted and exquisitely judged for maximum impact in an arena where the older boy could do nothing about it.

Ed, while describing his brother in glowing terms, could have called him talented. He could have called him skilled, a great statesman, a credit to the party.

No. Ed called his brother “special”. And I just bet he had to resist the temptation to slide his tongue between his teeth and lower lip and jut out his jaw while he said it. It was a playground diss brought starkly into the adult world, and short of flapping his hands at right angles on either side of his face while doing it, I don’t think Ed could have made his point more clearly.* David, the heir apparent to the Labour throne, has been beaten to the prize, and Ed found a way to really rub his brother’s nose in a big stinky pile of defeat.

It’s telling, doncha think, that David has decided to back out of a role in the Shadow Cabinet. His reasoning? “Ed is my brother.” That says it all. David’s clearly at the point where he can’t even stand to be in the same room as the smirking brat who’s just stomped on his dreams. Christmas should be interesting round at the Milliband’s this year. Hilariously, the Asian Tribute has suggested that their mother may become involved in mediating disputes. “David. GO TO YOUR ROOM. I don’t care what your brother called you! ”

Like I said, you need to have a brother and be a brother to understand the dynamics at play. The battle for turf, the struggle for supremacy in the most minor way perceivable (who gets the last spud, the better birthday present, the later bedtime) is the red thread that binds the fraternal relationship together. And victory HAS to be celebrated, or else it is hardly a victory at all. Even if it’s the face pull, or the whispered insult. The fact that Ed has pulled off this simple feat in such a classy way is cause for applause. This man has what it takes to make his way in the brutal playground of the political word.

It’s a real shame that the Millibands won’t be in the Cabinet together. I have a very clear image of the first meeting under the new regime. The brothers will be seated opposite each other. There will be lots of glowering eye contact. David will make a snide comment, or Ed will mutter something under his breath. Someone will call someone else a mong. It won’t take much. The meeting will end in chaos as David launches himself across the table at Ed, his face a snarling mask.

The image of Harriet Harman prying the Brawling Millibands apart would have kept me warm all winter.

*I understand the moral and social issues behind the word and the gesture, but they’re a subject for a much more wide ranging post. This is not the time. If you take offence at the fact that I find playground disability taunts amusing, then please, meet me in the comments and we’ll talk.