In the UK, there are the Miliband brothers, David and Ed.

Both brothers — who, by all reports, have been particularly close — held senior positions in the last Labour government. After the defeat of Gordon Brown, and his resignation as party leader, each Miliband brother decided he ought to be leader. David, at 45, the older of the two, and in government longer, was supposed to have the edge. Ed, at 41, was the upstart.

It does seem obvious: We shouldn’t vote for anybody who would run against his own brother.

No doubt this is what at least David, the frontrunner, thought about Ed.

Ed judged it to be about opportunity, which he feared might not knock again. And it was. He won. He seized the day. Arguably, his brother’s.

It is worth mentioning the age issue. Politicians are getting younger. They are in their 40s. A generation younger than politicians used to be, 60 being the age of gravitas and maturity. You would think, given lengthening life expectancy, politicians would get older — the new 60 should be 75 — instead of the other way around. Think about how much longer we might be stuck with these people — these same faces.

The Miliband brothers seem very much like children (the UK has a particular problem in this regard — almost a missing generation: David Cameron is 42; his chancellor, George Osborne, is 39).

Likewise, Barack Obama seems hopelessly green. Sarah Palin is an adolescent.

Politicians are infantile. They want what they want when they want it. They lack all seriousness and meaning.

It’s become a profession for the callow, jejune, and wet behind the ears. (It is the Michael Bloomberg advantage. He sometimes seems like the only adult in politics.)

Character is the issue. It is so serious a cause, that now even the characterless — this new crop of unformed and untested outsiders — have seized on it, creating an ever-widening circle of the featherless and feckless, and of people whose justification for wanting power is that they could take it.

We seem to lack the most basic standards of eligibility. We need some basic tenets: You shouldn’t step over your own mother or run against your brother, for starters.

This article first appeared on

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey