It's a family quarrel and I prefer to keep out of that; but it's also a public contest for the leadership of the Labour Party, in which, though I am not a member, I do have an interest as a lifelong Labour voter. I will therefore say that if Ed Miliband is fairly reported here, he still has some sharpening up of his political skills to do, to say nothing of his capacity for detecting a lame utterance as it leaves his mouth.
In a two-hour Radio 5 hustings, David Miliband claimed that his brother Ed was in the same position over the Iraq war as all the other candidates save Diane Abbott, since she alone had vocally opposed the conflict at the time.
Ed Miliband has claimed that he opposed the war at the time of the invasion in 2003 but was living in the US, so his views were not known in the UK.
[David Miliband] asserted: "Diane Abbott is the only candidate that can say she was against the war at the time, and if that is the sole criterion, she is in a different position to every other candidate. She did not just think she was against it, she said she was against it, and she marched against it."
Ed Miliband insisted on his opposition: "I did tell people at the time that asked me that I was against the war."
Balls said under his breath "you did not tell people" before pointing out that in 2005, when the Times asked Labour figures whether they would have voted for the war, Ed did not answer the question.
Ed Miliband countered that he did tell his constituency party in 2005 of his opposition, but denied he was seeking any moral superiority.
(1) Ed told people who asked him. And otherwise? This was, after all, a major topic of political conversation over many months and more. How could anyone have been left in doubt about what his views were? (2) If he claims no moral superiority on the issue, why insist on bringing up his own more 'virtuous' record? (3) In any case, the asumption behind it all, namely, that there was nothing to be said for supporting the Iraq war, is itself a piece of Pharisaism fit only for the consumption of people of slow moral wit.