Polly\’s new Viking

With breathtaking bravura he held the hall rapt. No autocue, at ease, personal and passionate. Even the enemy press emerged speaking superlatives, though whether those feature in Tory prints is another matter. The nation may glimpse too little of this confident, intelligent speech, though by osmosis voters do absorb political turning points such as this. It was the day Miliband\’s private qualities at last turned into public strengths: not just brainy but funny, likable and an unashamed egalitarian to the core of his being.

I think I\’d trust Polly\’s instincts about Labour leaders more if there had been one, just one, that she had not portrayed as the man of the nation\’s dreams at some point or other.

My memory on this only goes back as far as John Smith but all, without exception, have been lauded as the answer to as maiden\’s (or even matron\’s) dreams at some point or other.

36 thoughts on “Polly\’s new Viking”

  1. “No, Mum, this time it’ll be different. He’s promised to be faithful to me. I know, I know I said that about the others, but this one is special. This time it’s TRUE love.”

    No fool like an old fool.

  2. The only question to which Ed Milliband is the answer is:- “Who would make an even worse Prime Minister than the Eton educated ponce who is the current incumbent”

  3. Why is speaking without an autocue supposed to be a sign of wonder amongst politicians?

    I do it all the time, as do most people who deliver lectures, speeches, conference presentations, even sermons.

    In fact amongst normal public speakers it’s the opposite – if you can’t present without having it all written down you’re a bit of a muppet.

    Is this just another example of the general low standard of politicians, so a level of ability that would be regarded as barely competent in the outside world is regarded as genius amongst the political class?

  4. @ Richard. VERY good.

    The political harlot of Primrose Hill has given her heart to so many Labour leaders only to be spurned so many times one could almost pity her…almost.

  5. Ian Reid,

    Only slightly.

    I’m half considering voting Labour, because the economy isn’t going to start improving much until the Conservatives get back to hardcore small government/free market, and that’s only going to happen once Cameron is defeated.

    If it’s after one term and a coalition, it might make some people in the party realise that the Cameroon policies didn’t sell (seriously, the guy couldn’t get a majority against Brown).

  6. It’s surprising (NOT) how often progressives do pin all their hopes and dreams on the next leader. The fact that all previous leaders were unable to move beyond the rhetoric of hope-n-change and deliver utopia doesn’t seem to make them hesitate. All that changes is the excuses.

  7. @Richard

    bang on. Remembering an hour’s worth of material is, of course, even easier if you’ve given it before. As Ed had; the first half hour were depressingly familiar; the oak tree, Mrs Jenkins, the girl who’d sent 137 CVs off. All culled from other speeches.

    It is fair, I think to say:

    1. this was the best speech Ed Miliband has ever given; it was a lifetime high.

    2. that doesn’t mean it was good, or even that competent.

  8. Glad he’s caught up with the rest of Britain. In many jobs, even as students in university or some schools, people have to give a speech without an autocue. May have notes – maybe glance at them at some point, maybe not.
    But giving a speech isn’t that impressive these days.

  9. Well Precious Polly Petal, it’s easy to big up these nonentities when you have a nice place in Tuscany to escape to isn’t it.

  10. Tim

    I can recall the despair when Major won in ’92 and I’m pretty sure her excoriation of Thatcher extended at least into the Foot era, so add Foot and Kinnock (both declared ‘agents of influence’ by the KGB) to the list of her idols!

  11. sackcloth and ashes

    ‘My memory on this only goes back as far as John Smith but all, without exception, have been lauded as the answer to as maiden’s (or even matron’s) dreams at some point or other’.

    Don’t recall her singing Blair’s praises, but I may be wrong.

    ‘Foot and Kinnock (both declared ‘agents of influence’ by the KGB)’

    Bollocks. Foot, to take one of the two, was a pretty piss-poor politician but he actually had principles, and would no more have taken the Lubyanka’s money than I would.

  12. The Sunday Times alleged that Foot was an “Agent of Influence”, because Oleg Gordievsky told it so. But other former KGB officers denied it, and the Sunday Times was forced to withdraw its accusation completely when Foot sued.

    It’s news to me that any such accusations have been made against Kinnock. The charge is implausible on its face: Kinnock is much younger than the other alleged agents.

  13. PaulB

    The KGB term ‘Agent of Influence’ is not implying that he was an actual agent (ie he wasn’t a Philby or Cairncross,say) merely that his beliefs advanced the Soviet cause. Much of the Intellectual and even journalistic Left of the 1950s through the 1980s would have had the same designation in KGB files.

    Foot was mentioned in the Mitrokhin archive, certainly and other newly obtained documents mention contacts between Labour in the 80s and the then thawing USSR (even under Andropov and Chernenko it was moving at glacial pace towards some form of liberalisation)

  14. Sackcloth and ashes

    I can recall her being somewhat off about Blair, especially when he began tackling things like Clause four but she quickly became a Blairite groupie in the wave of euphoria following the May 1997 landslide – She was especially impressed by the ‘Blair’s babes’ from my recollection!

  15. The autocue is so they can prove they can read. This has been considered important since the time of King George W. Bush II.

  16. VP: “Foot was mentioned in the Mitrokhin archive”. Not according to any report I’ve read he wasn’t. Certainly not as any sort of an agent. You’re making this up.

  17. PaulB

    As I said -the ‘Agent of Influence’ moniker is not the same as being a direct agent a la Aldrich Ames! The fact it hasn’t been reported is due to the fear of legal action (you mentioned this in your post on the Gordievsky ‘allegations’ as you put it) – believe it or not there exists a world outside what’s reported in the mainstream press. Sorry if I’m shattering your illusions here!

  18. VP: don’t be absurd. No one has been afraid of being sued by Michael Foot for the last two years. So come on, quote for us what the Mitrokhin archive has to say about him.

  19. I suspect that the KGB, occasionally being fairly clever buggers, were not above giving money to people for no other reason than that they could later claim to have given them money. Or later point out to the people concerned that they’d already taken some money, which probably didn’t work most of the time, but was overall a viable investment for the few times it did.

  20. And the last word goes to Mr Eugenides (now sadly off-line, I think):

    As for poor Pol, where to start? Imagine the despair, so raw you can almost taste it. Imagine the sense of crushing disappointment. For years now, she has waited for her prince to come—her dashing Norse warrior, who will sweep away all the effete detritus of the Blair years and unload a torrent of resources into child poverty and public services. Night after night she has left the red light on for him; lying in the bed in her Agent Provocateur lingerie, maybe some crotchless pants and a peephole bra, striking an uncomfortable pose lest he come charging through the door at any moment to sweep her up in his powerful arms.

    And then, after what seemed like years, suddenly there he is; his chunky body framed by the doorwell, his Presbyterian profile silhouetted in the crimson glow. Here, she thinks, is her Viking! Quickly, silently, she enfolds him, gorging on his lengthy pledges, swallowing his promises, almost gagging on the heady, musky scent of true, bestial socialism unleashed after so long under wraps. There doesn’t seem to be quite as much as he had promised, sure, but no matter; isn’t there plenty of goodness in those heavy, swinging sacs of his, so engorged with cash that they seem about to burst? It’s not all about presentation, you know. Never mind the quality; feel the width.

    And now, at last, her hero is ready to spend, and spend big…

  21. PaulB

    Let me get to a Free wifi source (I’m out at the minute) and I’ll gladly share what I learned. It’s nothing especially controversial!

  22. PaulB

    So before I begin, let me say this is predicated on the assumption that Michael Foot was ‘Agent Boot’ as Defector Oleg Gordievsky asserts. Having met him, he struck me as patently sincere and very well- informed (betraying the KGB was a serious business for them) but, as you said earlier, his allegations have been denied by other KGB officials subsequently so if you don’t believe what he’s saying is true, then obviously you won’t believe the information from the archive.

    Agent Boot (they had a penchant for names I think strange) was a prominent Public intellectual, very influential in the Socialist movement, had held high office and was passionately opposed to an independent nuclear deterrent. Also campaigned for the removal of NATO forces from UK soil. Sympathetic to Trade Union Action and in favour of all measn necessary to attack the British establishment. The archive then lists (and much of it is mundane) various public appearances where said agent was observed and monitored. That’s pretty much it.

    There was never any suggestion that Foot was a paid agent (I didn’t get the juicy bits of the archive for the most part) or that he was offered or indeed would have accepted any financial consideration from the Lubyanka. (He was a patriot who had served his country) About a half dozen other Public figures were hinted at, but obviously it’s dependent on whether you accept the validity of the Archive as a bona fide source. A number of prominent historians treat it as a very hot potato!

  23. There tends to be a great deal of confusion surrounding this because of the terminology used in intelligence. An ‘agent’ does not work for you. The concept of ‘James Bond: Secret Agent’ is completely wrong, since Bond would have been an operative, field officer, or some such.

    It’s quite possible for an intelligence service to consider someone an agent without that person being aware of it or complicit.

  24. Dave

    Exactly right – in many cases (and it applies to many Shadow Cabinet ministers in the 1980s) I would be very surprised if they even knew about the KGB’s considering them an agent, and our own security services weren’t exactly forthcoming in that period either!

  25. So what you are saying, Knitter, is that it doesn’t mean anything at all that Foot or whomever you’re blustering about, did or didn’t have anything, and probably nothing at all, to do with any number of bogeymen you seem to see in every situation?

    So why do you bother?

    It’s almost as rubbish as people constantly repeating that Barack Obama is a Kenyan Communist.

  26. Arnald

    What he is saying is that your boy was such a wicked sanctimonious socialist twat that he was already doing everything he had the bottle for to deliver the people of this country into the hands of their murdering tyrannical foes without needing to be paid.

  27. Mr Ecks

    Thanks for the support -Arnald – more comments from you today than I’ve seen in about a month. Slow day at the office?

  28. Richard Gadsen

    I had forgotten about the flirtation with the Alliance. I’m certain again the need to defeat her despised enemy Thatcher trumped her disdain for the Labour Party’s direction in 1979 to 1983, and I certainly thought she was back in with Labour in the ’87 defeat ( I don’t recall her being overly impressed with Steel) because of the essential priority being the salvation of her beloved post war consensus? ( Thatcher must be stopped by any means necessary) But I will bow to your knowledge if she was backing Owen in ’87!

  29. sackcloth and ashes

    @ Van_Patten

    KGB spooks tended to use the term ‘agent of influence’ as a short hand for ‘anyone I had a conversation with as part of my diplomatic cover’. It was a way of making reports back to the Centre look sexier, and also a way of implying that you were an effective operative.

    That comes from the Mitrokhin Archives (which does also name genuine KGB agents, and people like Richard Gott who took money off the chekists).

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