With recent newspaper reports again claiming that relations between the Miliband brothers are still strained, nearly a year after former Foreign Secretary David’s his unexpected defeat in the Labour leadership battle at the hands of his younger brother Ed, one journalist claims to have uncovered the real source of the ill-feeling dividing the siblings. “It all comes down to a childhood argument about a favourite TV programme,” The BBC’s chief political correspondent, Nick Robinson, told a clearly bemused Huw Edwards on the Six O’Clock News earlier this week. “Like all geeks, the Miliband brothers are both huge Star Trek fans, never missing an episode of any of its many incarnations.” According to the chrome domed former Young Conservative, a rift quickly developed between David and Ed as to who was the best commander of the USS Enterprise. “Not surprisingly, dispassionate intellectual David favoured the Next Generation’s Picard, with his cool, thoughtful and diplomatic approach to intergalactic affairs,” opined Robinson, speaking live from outside the Labour Party’s London HQ. “By contrast, hot headed radical Ed preferred the two-fisted approach of the classic series’ Captain Kirk, who believed that any problem, no matter how big, could be resolved by beaming down to a planet and engaging in a one-on-one fist fight with alien menaces, before sexually harassing a few female crew members.”
Robinson alleged, on the basis of unattributed sources, that David Miliband’s campaign team had been shocked when Ed started running his campaign in a Kirk-like manner. “Apparently he kept turning up at hustings surrounded by red-shirted security guards,” he claimed, as Huw Edwards desperately tried to cut to another story. “He’d then overact outrageously during the debates, drawing attention away from David’s carefully constructed arguments with his histrionics.” In perhaps the most serious allegation, Robinson said that he had been told by somebody whose cousin’s friend was there, that, during a leadership debate held at a local constituency party, Ed had deployed the ‘Corbomite Manoeuvre’. “Unable to defeat his brother by means of reason, he threatened to explode if the older Miliband didn’t withdraw from the debate,” the dome headed political commentator insisted on telling the studio, in spite of Huw Edward’s desperate hand gestures to wind up the item. “Astoundingly, it worked!”
Although dismissed by most commentators and politicians as nothing more than gossip, others believe that Robinson’s bizarre theories can go some way not only to explaining Ed and David Miliband’s relationship, but also wider Labour Party policy. “Star Trek is an excellent analogy for the development of Labour’s political philosophy over the past couple of decades,” Professor Joel Nibbler, Chair of Politics at Bracknell University, opined in a newspaper article the day after Robinson’s shock revelations. “Over the years it developed from a roughly hewn revolutionary, action-led, concept, based around a few simple guiding principles, to a slickly packaged, pseudo-intellectual, confection which was all talk and special effects, but no action. ‘New Labour’ was undoubtedly the Next Generation of leftist politics.” Nibbler argued that original series fan Ed’s triumph in the Labour leadership election signalled a return to more traditional Labour values. “It’s quite clear that the original Star Trek is superior – by electing Ed the Labour membership is signalling its desire for a return to traditional values,” he wrote. “David’s allegiance to the Next Generation spoke of his adherence to the kind of revisionist values that resulted in ‘New Labour’ losing the last election.”
However, other political commentators cast doubt upon this assessment. “Next Generation’s vision of a racially diverse galactic society with an economy based, not on money, but universal provision of commodities on the basis of need, is far closer to the party’s founding principles than the original series’ vaguely outlined multi-cultural military alliance keeping the intergalactic peace through a combination of violence and shagging,” Dr Neil Goblett told Radio Four’s Today programme that same day. “Guided by the example of Captain Kirk, Ed Miliband will no doubt try to defeat Cameron through ‘single combat’ in the Commons – a ridiculously outmoded concept. Just like Jean-Luc Picard, David realises that a broader-based approach is necessary – appealing to reason amongst your opponent’s followers and offering a principled compromise on key issues is a far more constructive, not to mention effective, way of conducting politics.”
According to Robinson, any chance of a reconciliation between the brothers was quickly scuppered. “Having finally defeated David in the leadership election, Ed apparently added insult to injury by explaining his victory to his brother with the words: ‘The needs of the many outweighed the needs of the one.’,” Robinson told a stunned Jeremy Paxman on that evening’s edition of Newsnight, contending that this quote from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, dashed any lingering possibility of David standing for election to the new Shadow Cabinet and becoming Spock to Ed’s Kirk. “The issue of whether Spock or Data was the better advisor has long been a point of contention between the brothers, with David maintaining that, as an android, Data was the more perfectly logical in his decision making. By quoting Mr Spock, Ed was making clear that he would expect David to follow the example of the original series’ half Vulcan, half human first officer : tempering his devotion to Vulcan logic with the compassion of his human side.”
Apparently oblivious to Paxman’s attempts to shout him down, the chief political correspondent ploughed on with his bizarre claims. “Sources close to David have told me that he’s consoling himself with the knowledge that, in Star Trek: Generations, it is Picard’s cool intellect, rather than Kirk’s all-action approach, which finally won the day,” Robinson concluded, to Paxman’s visible relief. Not surprisingly, the BBC correspondent’s claims have been roundly denied by spokespersons for both Miliband brothers, who claimed that both brothers were actually Doctor Who fans. “Ah, but isn’t it true that David favours the measured approach of William Hartnell, whilst Ed prefers the more flamboyant approach of Venusian martial-arts expert Jon Pertwee?” responded Robinson, who has rejected charges of trivialising the entire Labour leadership race by persistently presenting inconsequential tittle-tattle about the Milibands as political comment.