David Miliband was Foreign Secretary, and very nearly the next Prime Minister. Now, according to the Daily Mirror:
he’s giving up politics and going to run the International Rescue Committee charity in New York. “It’s his dream job” says the Mirror.
While working full time as an MP, he has been earning nearly a million pounds in the past two years – ten times his salary – “work[ing] extensively with VantagePoint Capital Partners, a Californian group; Oxford Analytica, a UK advisory company; and Indus Basin Holdings, a Pakistani agrochemical group.”
There’s no information in the Mirror article about what the International Rescue Committee actually does, so I went to the Guardian, where there’s a very long article
with just a sentence and a half about the IRC which:
“provides emergency relief to victims of conflict. Miliband’s successor as foreign secretary, William Hague, visited a displacement camp for victims of rape run by the IRC with Angelina Jolie in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo this week.”
but of course there’s a link to their site
and sure enough there’s a photo of Hague talking to two pretty white women, one of whom wears a t-shirt with a tasteful logo and the word “Rescue”. (This is my fourth article to mention t-shirts. There’s material for a whole blog on the role of t-shirts in politics) while another white woman and a white man hover in the background. Somewhere in the distance there’s a vague blurry suggestion of tents and black faces.
Of course what they do is absolutely brilliant, helping people as no government or UN aid agency apparently can. And no doubt Angelina Jolie’s presence helps them get funding, and it makes sense to have their headquarters in New York, given that Americans are richer and more generous than Europeans.
“We distributed 12,000 emergency kits for women over the past few months to enable them to wash in private and to reduce the risk at night-time. The kits include extra clothing and underwear, strips of reusable cloth for sanitary towels, soap and two wash buckets, flashlights, as well as whistles they can use to signal for help if there’s danger.”
No-one should be cynical about this. A moment’s thought suggests that sanitary towels and flashlights are probably what’s needed, and voluntary groups are probably better at understanding these things than bureaucrats in government or at the UN.
Still one wonders what particular qualities David Miliband brings to the job, since the biggest items on his CV so far are windmills in Britain and a war in Iraq. Cynics might also note that Albert Schweitzer didn’t set up LeperAid in Kayserberg, and Florence Nightingale didn’t run CrimeaWatch from an office in Mayfair. But that’s just cynics.
Cynics are also suggesting that he might return to Brutish politics some time in the future, possibly after the fall of the next Labour government.
And he’ll have a new t-shirt.