One narrative the Tories are keen to push is the notion that Ed Miliband “stabbed his brother in the back” to become leader of the Labour Party. I’ve heard some ridiculous things in my time, but this claim that Ed “stabbed his brother in the back” is rubbish. Did David Cameron stab David Davis in the back to become leader of the Conservative Party, or does this rule only apply when two brothers contest a party’s leadership?
If I were to play my brother at chess and I win the game, have I “stabbed my brother in the back”? No, I beat him fair and square. This narrative that Ed Miliband used nefarious means to become leader appears to have been drawn from either a notional understanding of classical Greek tragedy or the Cain and Abel story, yet the idea itself is worthy of a bad Whitehall farce scripted by Lynton Crosby.
Today, Michael Fallon resurrected this notion in his attack on the Labour leader. Fallon claimed Miliband would “barter away” Trident to get into Downing Street because he “stabbed his brother in the back”. Talk about lazy thinking. I’ll return to Trident in a moment. Yet, even Fallon’s fellow Tories have criticized him for personalizing the election discourse.
Fallon, the MP for Sevenoaks, read Classics and History at St Andrew’s University, which would explain the appeal of this sub-Classical narrative. While he was Deputy Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, Fallon claimed mortgage repayments on his Westminster flat in their entirety. This was against Parliamentary rules.
Between 2002 and 2004, Mr Fallon regularly claimed £1,255 per month in capital repayments and interest, rather than the £700-£800 for the interest component alone. After his error was noticed by staff in the Commons fees office in September 2004, he said: “Why has no one brought this to my attention before?”
He began making the excessive claims after buying the Westminster flat for £243,000 in June 2002 and designating it as his second home.
Various other household expenses he claimed for after September 2004 included a £250 per month cleaning bill, which Mr Fallon reduced from £300 after being asked for a receipt.
In addition to his expenses claims, Fallon is also
…paid as a director of three companies. His salary from one, a money broker, is reportedly £45,000. He also pays his wife from his taxpayer-funded office expenses to work as his secretary.
The main issue with Trident is that it is expensive and that it isn’t actually owned by Britain. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament states that “it is technically and politically dependent on the United States”. Richard Norton-Taylor writing in The Guardian in 2009 states that it would cost the country £130 billion to renew. That figure increased to £350 billion by 2012. The Tories are fond of telling us how the country can’t afford the NHS or other public services, yet they would be prepared to fork out billions of pounds on something that will never be used. The real beneficiaries of the renewal of Trident are weapon’s manufacturers and the Tories who have a financial stake in its renewal.
The idea that this country needs a nuclear weapon to guarantee its national security is an over-dramatization. I’ve just heard Fallon making a speech in which he claims that the world is a “dangerous place”. Well, excuse me, but it’s always been dangerous. Possessing weapons of mass destruction won’t make it safer.