So: Labour leadership contest. I'm a sucker for competition in politics, so – gorged though I may be on election coverage – I remain hungry for more.
Monday's Newsnight sated some of that hunger with a feature on the contest so far. A high point was the coverage of a focus group being asked to consider each of the putative leadership candidates. Shown video footage of each, the group shared their observations (most memorable of which were the girl whose 'friend' fancies Ed Miliband, and the man who likened Ed Balls to a vendor of kebabs).
We were then treated (if 'treated' be quite the verb) to the spectacle of every single member of the panel holding a photo of their favoured candidate in front of their own face. And suddenly we were surrounded by David Milibands, all sporting an identical smile that increasingly resembled a sneer the more it was replicated. More horrific than anything Hollywood has managed for decades.
Focus groups and politico-geeks aside, though, most people don't know much about any of these Labour candidates. "I don't really know who David Miliband is," said (for instance) an info bird with whom I discussed the matter. "Is he the one who looks a bit sleekit?"
Now, the Intellectual Hooligan prides itself on acquainting you with exotic expressions (for this is the blog, lest we forget, that popularised gankin'), so when aforesaid info bird used the word sleekit, the Hooligan's ears pricked up. Sleekit (in case, like me, you were unfamiliar with the term) originated in the 14th century as a description of one who – though charming – is sly, ingratiating and two-faced.
Ouch. But what a great word, eh?
Still, I rather like Miliband. I like him for the fact that he channels Tony Blair like a fucking pro: interviewed by Jeremy Paxman, the first policy areas he mentioned were education and antisocial behaviour. The boy learnt his triangulation on Uncle Tony's knee.
A Miliband Labour would very clearly be centrist. Which means it would be electable. There's a danger that people equate centrist electability (Blair) with 'adventurous' foreign policy and erosion of civil liberties (also Blair) – which is a shame, because the two needn't come as a package. A Miliband Labour also seems as if it might be a little more strategic than Brown's overly tactical administration.
And I like the idea of a centrist Labour. Most of all, I like the idea of all three parties scrapping for the centre-ground like maladroit sixthformers at an all boys school jostling for the common room chair next to matron's daughter.