Driven by data; ridden with liberty.
Politics is personal. That also means political discussions can stray from public policy into personal attacks.
After suggesting Labour would renege on a renewal of the Trident defence system if they formed a government with the Scottish National Party (SNP), Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
Ed Miliband stabbed his own brother in the back to become Labour leader. Now he is willing to stab the United Kingdom in the back to become prime minister.
Ed Miliband did not “stab his brother in the back to become Labour leader”. Ed Miliband did not throw his brother off a cliff, after evilly whispering ‘Long live the King’, either. The Miliband brothers fought alongside Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott, for the party’s leadership in 2010. After four rounds of voting, Ed Miliband triumphed over his brother, with 175,519 votes to David’s 147,220. It was an open and democratic contest. It may be more fantastical to speak of this brotherly duel as if it were a scene from Game of Thrones, but claims of back-stabbing are inaccurate.
It should be noted that the Liberal Democrats, in their 2010 manifesto, pledged:
Rule out the like-for-like replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system. At a cost of £100 billion over a lifetime it is unaffordable, and Britain’s security would be better served by alternatives.
At the point of confluence, this pledge evolved in the Coalition Agreement:
We will maintain Britain’s nuclear deterrent, and have agreed that the renewal of Trident should be scrutinised to ensure value for money. Liberal Democrats will continue to make the case for alternatives.
At present, the Labour leader has ruled out a full coalition with the SNP. In a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement underwritten by the SNP, a minority Labour government could renew the Trident missiles through the support of the Conservatives.
In a strange piece for the Daily Mail, Andrew Pierce wrote of Ed Miliband’s love life before his wife Justine. The Daily Mail had similarly published an article about the Prime Minister David Cameron’s love affairs, but its tone was more sympathetic. Instead, this article says that ‘Red Ed’ and his dates “also highlights the deeply incestuous and narrow world of the Labour high command”. The article also remarks:
What a deliciously small and privileged world! One that is a million miles from the lives of millions of ordinary voters.
Mr Pierce’s article finishes:
However, many voters — particularly women — may see him in a less attractive light.
In The Guardian, Stuart Heritage humourously responded to this article:
It’s about Ed Miliband. The man who knifed his own brother in the back. In fact, this is probably how he learned to knife his brother in the back, by knifing a woman in the front. With his penis.
Politics is dealt a disservice when it is assumed opponents must be devious or dastardly. Mr Miliband is an honourable man, and we do not demean him by making such personal attacks, but ourselves.