Conference sketch, by Siôn Simon

A glance at Ed Milband reveals his origins. He is dark. Not just his glossy, black hair, but his eyes. And not just the brows or the glinting coals at the centre. The sockets themselves are subfusc.

His beard is light. In some ways he looks girlish. But his full, fleshy lips have a masculine sensuousness. And they are dark.

In short, he is Italian. His original name was Milibandini. His ties are thinner, too, than British ties. But this is also because he is from a New Generation. Only Mr Bradshaw’s ties are thinner than Sr Miliband’s.

Neil Kinnock does not look like this. He is red and freckled. Mr Kinnock is Sr Miliband’s friend.

So it was surprising to see this figlio di Michelangelo crouched behind Mr Kinnock’s lectern. The stage from which the Welshman denounced Scouse Trotskyism 25 years ago to the week.

Sr Miliband’s home is a small Calabrian village called Belgium. He told us this right at the start. His parents were Jews who fled Mussolini’s race laws. It was the best part of his speech. You could tell that he meant it.

As well as Italians, they were Jungians and Marxists and so went to Primrose Hill. “It was not a cold home”, he told us. “It was warm”. As a family, they shot tiny birds on Hampstead Heath and Papa Milibandini fed them capicoddhu and Gramsci.

And he taught Ed how to be left-wing. At first, he schooled both boys in the ways of the faith. He warned them that in the future they would face, “the old ways in the City of deregulation”.

From an early age, they knew that one day they would need “a tax system for business that rewards responsibility”. That a living wage would be the “foundation of our economy in the future”. This latter was hard to explain. David could never understand it. Ed said little, but was always listening.

Every night as he put him to bed, Papa Milbandini would whisper to Ed: “remember, carissimo: that a banker can earn in a day what a careworker earns in a year – it’s wrong. One day, my son, you will be the new generation. You will build the good society. You will need this knowledge”.

“I know that Papa”, young Ed would reply. “One day we will reject the old ways. There is more to life than the bottom line”.

Papa Milibandini had taught him well. Young Ed would not let the family down.

The older brother, David, had gone bad. As a teenager he was led astray by an American called John Rawls. Ed went to Harvard too, but did not talk to Mr Rawls. He went home and practised continental ways.

Then Mr Blair took David away and made him believe in markets. He could never really come home after that. La povera Mamma never recovered.

Ed stayed behind, though, and learned that “the people who caused the crisis” (bankers – the arch capitalists) must be punished.

For just a moment today, Signor Ed’s faith seemed to waver. In an instant of weakness, he denounced “overblown rhetoric about waves of irresponsible strikes”. The cameras cut to Mr Woodley, a Scouse leftist with millions of members. He and his friend Mr Simpson looked angry. They are not the ‘Ndrangheta, but it is not wise to make them angry.

Signor Milibandini knows this. He said that he is “determined to make Labour the party of enterprise and small business again”. Mr Woodley is fine with this. Once we have put a stop to the capitalists, small business will learn the meaning of responsibility and enterprise will flourish.

It was like the funerali of Enrico Berlinguer, but without the poetry or the music. They played the Kings of Leon as he left.

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3 Responses to “Conference sketch, by Siôn Simon”

  1. James Ruddick says:

    piu piccoli fratelli non hanno diritto modo da lottare di piu

  2. Paul Staines says:

    I’ll have whatever you are drinking.

  3. MarcJ says:

    It sounds like an Italian white wine to me.

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