Ed Miliband has cool-blitzed his brother’s desert island discs. It may be that he is cooler. It may be that he took a lot longer to reflect; that he agonised and focus-grouped.
Whatever the explanation, David’s desert island discs were defiantly uncool. Ed’s is a clever selection of thirty something and socialist hat tips.
We speculated in advance on how the candidates would deal with the Billy Bragg dilemma: too obvious, or impossible to omit if you want to resonate with any Labour member under 50?
David’s selection solved the problem by giving the impression that he didn’t realise that the well known tactial voter, Bragg, also published musical essays.
Ed has gone straight in with a Bragg reference point, New England, though in so doing left himself open to the charge of being boring and obvious. If you only knew one Billy Bragg song, that would be it.
Recognising how crucial it is to avoid being self-consciously trendy, all candidates will have to include apparently embarrassing tracks. David’s – Elton John and Sting – were authentically cringe-making. Whereas Ed has put the accent firmly on the “apparently”: A-ha’s Take on Me and Robbie’s Angels are not really embarrassing at all. They have a slightly camp tinge of recherché wit.
And with Hard-Fi – commercially successful but artistically acclaimed British indie pop – he has emphasised that he is the youth candidate, whereas David, born in the pre-history of 1965, is the Dads’ rep.
American hipsterism comes from Robeson, Ritter, the Redsox and Twelve Angry Men. The point here is not that Ed went to Harvard. His brother, after all, went to MIT. The quality being demonstrated is that while David had his head entirely in his books, with it Ed was all rock ‘n roll and baseball, girls and movies and St Elmo’s fire. He’s the rounded and grounded one, man.
Yankee bias is offset by Ed’s one classical choice: Beethoven’s ninth symphony, which is the European anthem. While essentially a dull choice, it is a masterpiece of western art, and therefore safely beyond reproach.
In conclusion: people who like Ed Miliband will like him more for these choices. Beltway professionals will respect him for their canny care. If these are not his real choices, then it is a well-done job. If this is really him, then he is a lot cooler than his brother, though in a predictably preppy way. (And that is a low bar).
Paul Robeson: The Ballad of Joe Hill
Billy Bragg: A New England
Josh Ritter: Good Man
Hard Fi: Stars of CCTV
Housemartins: Caravan of Love
Robbie Williams: Angels
A-ha: Take on Me
Beethoven: Ninth Symphony
Book – Ulysses (because I might get through it on a desert island)
Film – Twelve Angry Men
Website – redsox.com
Luxury – iPhone
(He will not be allowed a connected iphone, obviously).