Why the post of Leader of the Opposition is important

There are some in the media who treat the Labour leadership campaign as some strange alternative story from the main drama of government and people. They did the same to the Conservatives during much of our period in opposition.

Who is Leader of the Opposition always matters. The Country will need a choice at the next election, and when  the election draws nearer the Leader of the main challenger party naturally gets more attention and becomes more interesting.

The Leader of the Opposition with the Shadow Cabinet also determines some of the business of the Commons through Opposition day debates, and can always set the main political conversation point through having 6 questions each week at Prime Minister’s Questions, which in turn feeds the media.

The next Leader of the Opposition has an additional  relevance  as well as being a future possible PM whose importance  only rises if he or she gets the Labour Party high enough in the polls to be a possible winner. As soon as the new Leader is elected he or she will have to decide whether our country bombs Syria or not. The PM has no majority to do it if Labour opposes the government, but is likely to do it and can do it if Labour is on a three line whip to abstain or to support the bombing.

Then there is the pressing  question of what does Labour want by way of change in our EU relationship? Again the Leader’s view will have an immediate influence  on what the government asks for and recommends. The decision of Labour to support or  oppose continued membership will have influence on a crucial referendum.

There is the question of welfare reform. Whilst the government can probably get its way on what it wants despite a small majority, the task is much easier if Labour abstain or support the main thrust of the proposals to make it more worthwhile for people to work.

Mr Corbyn as Leader would presumably vote against military intervention in Syria. He seems to have diluted his sceptical views about current EU policy and may now wish to support continued membership whatever the outcome of the negotiations. If so it means all 4 Labour leadership contenders will be passive on the EU issue, declining to demand sensible improvements and indicating before the negotiations are settled that they will vote to stay in. In so doing they make a successful negotiation less likely and continue their long tradition of denying the significance of EU matters. Mr Corbyn will doubtless oppose most welfare reforms, and will seek to drag the political debate to the left.

 

Our democracy needs a strong and sensible Leader of the Opposition. Labour still is out to lunch on the main issue of our day, our relationship to the emerging political union on the continent.

 

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74 Comments

  1. alan jutson
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    Gone are the days it would seem when most Mp’s had their own opinion of what suited their constituents best, and would vote accordingly.

    Party management and the quest to be on message with the leader so that you can climb the greasy pole seem to be the order of the day for many.

    Once on the greasy pole Mp’s then come under the spell of never voting against any government policy, as that will result in demotion.

    Given there are some 140 or so Ministers, and a further 140 shadow positions, we are only left with about 50% of Mp’s (the real back benchers) who will vote according to their conscience, as the other 10% aspire to climb the greasy pole.

    Yes the leader of the opposition is important.

    Mr Corbyn “appears” to break the mould of the past, insofar as he “appears” to actually stand up for what he believes, time will tell if he is the chosen one or not, the problem Labour have, is who actually supports and chooses the leader, and would that person get enough support to be a possible future Prime Minister.

    The opposition to be credible, need to be in touch with the real World, its problems, and offer workable and affordable solutions, they certainly should not simply be a Party of protest and fantasy.
    Unfortunately for Labour the one candidate who appears to be in touch with the real World is polling last and has little experience of managing such matters.

    • A different Simon
      Posted August 2, 2015 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      You are right to hilight the “appears” bit .

      When Mr Corbyn left school , he went on voluntary service overseas and then became a union organiser .

      Neither of these qualify as proper jobs . He has very little in common with the 80% of the workforce who are in the private sector of which perhaps one third are working in the global economy competing with people overseas .

      The UK was a piss easy place to make a living back then and taking a couple of years out was not a problem unless your family was destitute . Now vso is the province of the affluent – vso or an unpaid internship .

      • Iain Gill
        Posted August 2, 2015 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

        We would still be better off with people like dave nellist in parliament than the poor quality same old political clique people labour replaced them with.

  2. Dame Rita Webb
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    You can see why the career in PR did not last very long. Despite many people having their holidays ruined. Dave decides to jet off on his believing it can all be solved with some dogs and chicken wire. What about a PM who is “credible” and who is “in touch with the real World” too?

    • Iain Gill
      Posted August 2, 2015 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      We should give free bus rides for anyone making it to this side of the channel to Chipping Norton. I see no reason the rest of us should have to put up with this.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    I do wonder why Mr Corbyn has move to become in favour of the anti-democratic EU? Perhaps he just sees it as another aid to help him push socialism thus destroying the economy, growth and jobs. It is surprising he is not taking more of a Benn, Foot, Shaw, Castle, Powell line over the EU.

    At least he is against the pointless & counter productive bombing. He will also help to ensure Labour do not get a majority even against these weak, left wing, tax borrow and waste, EUphile, green crap promoting, hugely misguided, serial ratting and poorly led Tories.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 2, 2015 at 6:44 am | Permalink

      Perhaps (and hopefully) his new position on the EU is just to help him win the leadership and he will become more EU sceptic afterward – if indeed he does win the leadership.

      If he thinks about the EU more carefully and thinks about the interest of his party he will surely come round to being more sceptic.

  4. JoeSoap
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    I don’t think you can assume Corbyn is pro-EU. Sure, if Cameron ends up changing nothing and the EU continues along in socialist paradise mode, then yes, Corbyn might continue to support the EU unequivocally. However if real changes were to be negotiated to return sovereignty and increase competitiveness he would be against.

    So you will be caught in a bit of a bind, because he will be a bit of a counter-weight to the Redwood view that re-negotiation is possible so that we remain in the EU.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 2, 2015 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      Does JR or anyone else really think and substantive renegotiation is possible with Cameron, I do wonder?

      I find it very difficult to believe substantive renegotiation is even being attempted by this government. They show not the slightest sign of any, not even of any sensible shopping list yet.

      Reply If they come back with very little we just vote for Out. The PM has set out four main areas for renegotiation. For me the crucial issue is are we back in charge or not?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 2, 2015 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        The PM has indeed set out four main areas – but only in the most vague and ambiguous of terms, virtually meaning less terms.

        The crucial issue is indeed are we back in charge or not? The answer will surely be a very emphatic no especially as we do not even seem to be asking for that.

  5. matthu
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    “If so it means all 4 Labour leadership contenders will be passive on the EU issue …”

    as has been every previous Labour leadership contender over the last 40 years, as has been every previous Tory leadership contender over the past 40 years, as is the current Tory leader and as will be every prospective Tory leadership contender over the next 5 years.

    And that is the nub of the problem only with Westminster.

    Now consider every successful BBC job applicant over the last 40 years … I’m beginning to see a pattern here and I haven’t even got onto university chancellors, prospective members of the House of Lords and on and on.

    • A different Simon
      Posted August 2, 2015 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      All these organisations have to do to perpetuate and strengthen the bias is place their job advertisements in the Guardian .

      Hard copy newspapers are struggling to break even . They blame this on the internet yet never once question the quality of their product .

      The Guardian has gone niche – appeal to freaks and preach to the choir . A pure business decision .

      The other paper which has undergone one of the most dramatic declines is the FT . It’s as progressive lefty as the BBC .

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 2, 2015 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

        I agree with that. The FT is rather like the BBC and indeed the Guardian on the EU, the catastrophic global warming religion and much else.

        • Mitchel
          Posted August 3, 2015 at 8:51 am | Permalink

          Likewise The Economist,far from being a bible for business, you can see what its current prime readership is from the Sits Vac section – mostly UN,EU,Quango,NGO,etc jobs.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted August 3, 2015 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

            Exactly pushing the EU/Government line is often the way to attract such lucrative adverts.

  6. agricola
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Yes the media do treat aspects of politics like a soap. Emmerdale or Jeremy Kyle in a field, but in designer clothes. Politicians in part invite it.

    Do not assume the choice at the next election will be between conservative and labour. I may no agree with Jeremy Corbyn, but he appears to give refreshingly straight answers when questioned. A not entirely unique quality in a politician but a rare one.

    Do not get carried away with what labour may do with JC at the helm. Their MPs might start voting according to their conscious , three line whips or not. We do not even know what the conservative party in the H o C, ministers, et al think about the EU, let alone what DC is supposedly re-negotiating. The only exception being your 100. Maybe a fragmented labour party will free up some of their minds.

    At least JC might get us away from the conspiracy of the centre ground within the Westminster bubble. Could be quite refreshing.

  7. Richard1
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Excellent article on this by Allister Heath in yesterday’s Telegraph. A Corbyn victory would be a disaster (not sure a Cooper or Burnham victory would be much different). The UK needs as many pro capitalist parties and politicians as possible. Neo Marxists such as Mr Corbyn, even if he would have no chance of victory, would drag the political debate to the left. Heath points out that George Osborne has adopted all sorts of tinkering interventionist policies in a supposedly clever political attempt to out-manoeuvre Labour. But this doesn’t make them good policies. It would be best for the Country if Liz Kendall won, as it would mean a Labour govt if we had to have one, would be much less damaging. But there seems little chance of that.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 2, 2015 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      George Osborne has indeed adopted all sorts of stupid, tinkering, interventionist policies in a supposedly clever political attempt to out-manoeuvre Labour.

      He is totally misguided in this. The Tories have just won a majority they should be doing sensible things that help the economy not half witted tinkering and hugely damaging interference. What is needed is far less government waste, smaller and rather better directly government, fewer daft regulations, much simpler employment laws, simpler tax laws, cheap energy, health and education systems that actually work and a legal system that acts in the interest of users rather than those of lawyers.

  8. David Price
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    I agree an opposition is important to hold the government to account, not simply oppose. But it shouldn’t just be by party, all MPs not in government ought to keep the government honest.

    However, I don’t believe the BBC are entitled to waste licence payer’s money providing free coverage, PR and communcation resources for a Labour leadership hustings to such a great extent. The BBC PTB are clearly giving licence payers and especially other political parties the finger.

    Abolish the BBC now.

  9. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Your comments in the final two paragraphs regarding the EU apply equally to your party leader and the majority of your colleagues in the HoC.
    As a matter of interest, what is your definition of a “successful negotiation”?

    • forthurst
      Posted August 2, 2015 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      “As a matter of interest, what is your definition of a “successful negotiation”?”

      Possibly, a new relationship with the EU, in which we had the privileges of being Out whilst nominally remaining In, a sort of EU Commonwealth in which HM would have a new title, Governess-General, and we would occasionally get a state visit from the High Representative of the Commission; we would all be very friendly, with an EU Commonwealth preference for trade and controlled migration (apart from Calais).

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted August 2, 2015 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      As you offered no reply, I presume it’s whatever your leader says is satisfactory.

      reply. I have set out many times before that I want fundamental change to a relationship based on trade and mutual agreement, outside the current federalising treaties. I am not your problem!

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted August 2, 2015 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply,
        Your leader is the problem and your tone has so far seemed too acquiescent.

        Reply Your tone remains as always unhelpful and critical of those of us who are doing something to change the situation.

  10. Anonymous
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Clearly the Tories are out to lunch on what is happening in the EU … and here in the UK.

    Without the LibDems or a credible Labour party there is no-one else to blame for what is happening since the PM decided to destabilise Libya and without fully reforming our border control or world famously generous welfare system.

    This is the end of European civilisation as we know it – certainly British by the looks of things. And it happens on the Tory watch for all to see.

    • Anonymous
      Posted August 2, 2015 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      Forget what Labour is up to.

      We don’t need an opposition leader.

      We need a single ruling party that can perform the most basic function of securing our borders and we need it now.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted August 2, 2015 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        Anonymous, you are right! If Mr Cameron thinks that another wire fence and a few dogs will put off migrants then he shouldn’t be in the job he is! He says this will last all summer – all summer, is he having a laugh? This will go on for ever and a day because the EU has got its immigration policy all wrong. Everyone warned them that by giving them safe passage more would come and that is exactly what is happening. Italy don’t want them, Greece certainly can’t afford them, France don’t want them and we definitely don’t want them. They have to be sent back and not allowed on European soil. It is madness that we are paying to rescue them, bring them to Europe and then think they are going to disappear into thin air. Oh, hold on a minute. They are disappearing into thin air once they get into the UK!! Where are all these illegal migrants getting their money from once they get here to eat and live?? Are we giving them benefits or are they working illegally paying no tax and not contributing to the system where they get free everything?? I say again, THIS IS A PROBLEM THAT IS HERE TO STAY. We should never have built the tunnel between us and France. We are no longer technically an island.

        • Anonymous
          Posted August 2, 2015 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

          We hear that benefits are to be withdrawn for failed asylum seekers and their families.

          Whoopie do.

          However, it is a joy to see the Tories being humiliated on this. And to be able to say ‘told you so’ to those stupid enough to vote for them.

          Sadly this is it for our country. Our cities will be (troubled ed) soon enough when the newcomers start demanding equalities. Probably within this administration.

          • alan jutson
            Posted August 3, 2015 at 8:03 am | Permalink

            Anonymous

            Sorry to rain on your parade, but Press reports this morning suggest single people will still get Benefits. !!

            So daft you could not make it up !

            Clueless, absolutely bloody Clueless !

        • JoeSoap
          Posted August 2, 2015 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

          Which is exactly where the John Redwood sit-on-hands, “I am not your problem” attitude is wrong.
          If there is a choice between being a Tory MP and condoning this inactivity by our government on this foreign invasion, or being Steven Woolfe, UKIP MEP but not MP stating the obvious case for what should be done, I’m with the latter. The day just HAS to be getting closer when the truths espoused by UKIP eclipse the Tory stasis and Labour politically correct hogwash.

          Reply By being a Conservative MP I have helped secure us both a renego0tiaiton and an In/Out referendum. If I had joined UKIP I would be out of Parliament and we would not be having the referendum.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted August 2, 2015 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

            Keep up the good work JR but I think you have a hugely difficult task. The opposition are half the Tory party, its leadership, the BBC, the CBI, SNP, the Libdims, the Greens, the EU, most of the state sector, big business and even Obama (one assumes given the non by the Tory government) putting his oar in.

          • JoeSoap
            Posted August 2, 2015 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

            Equally you are lending your name to some pretty incredible stances taken by your leadership.

            Renegotiation of anything meaningful? Pull the other one.

            Global immigrant crisis? NO. A UK immigrant crisis-don’t pull a Gordon Brown global blame deal on this….

            Reply I give my name to the views expressed here, including a referendum to leave the EU

          • Anonymous
            Posted August 2, 2015 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

            Reply to reply

            A) Yes – you would still be an MP

            B) What has a referendum to do with uncontrolled immigration ? Are you saying that if we vote to stay in then mass immigration will have to continue ? Then why aren’t you using it as an argument to get an Out vote ?

            Reply I am! Controlling our own borders would be a crucial change

        • JoeSoap
          Posted August 2, 2015 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

          So had UKIP been elected to government the following steps would now be being taken:

          1) The UK should deploy British troops to treble border staff in Calais with authority to detect illegal migrants entering the UK and to protect British holiday makers and truckers.

          2) Demand that the French authorities deploy their own troops to Calais to support the under resourced French authorities and security force.

          3) UK ports such as Little Haven and other smaller ports in the UK should prepare to filter traffic to La Havre, Dieppe and Ostend.

          4) We should plan to take any illegal migrants found in the UK back into France, just as the French authorities are doing on the French/Italian border.

          5) If the French fail to protect the border, our truckers and holiday makers, we should close Calais. This should focus French minds and would be reopened when the situation is eased and safety concerns are addressed.

          Strength, rather than the weak, limp and wimp Cameron, is called for here!

          Reply Why do you think a UKIP government was not elected if this is all so obvious and popular? By what means and right could the UK deploy troops in Calais? The UK cannot close Calais as it is not our port. UK travellers and trucks can use other ports and routes if they think them better. The UK government does not instruct people when and how top travel.

          • JoeSoap
            Posted August 2, 2015 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

            Reply to reply
            Don’t you think these things change with time? Clegg was Mr Popular new-face in 2010 but is now Mr Nobody. His ideas were popular and obvious in 2010, but less so when they were actually put to the test. It didn’t make them right in 2010, just popular AT THE TIME, as were Blair’s war ideas, Gordon Brown’s saving of the banks, Major’s ERM etc.
            So we had a number of ideas that were popular but in hindsight were wrong. I am merely arguing that the reverse case can also exist and indeed does right now in a number of areas. If you don’t accept this then all is lost.

            Your ideas about renegotiation of our EU terms are WRONG. They won’t happen but the vote will be fudged by your party. Would you rather be a part of that or something more honest?

            Your support for your party’s line on a so-called “global immigrant crisis” is WRONG and smacks of Brown’s claims about a global financial crisis. His government caused the UK effects, like your government is the cause of the UK effects of this immigrant crisis, regardless of what is happening on the US Mexico border or anywhere else.

            Incidentally, there is nothing wrong with using our troops to protect our borders – or is it more important to ship them away to countries in the Middle East? I think not.

            Reply I have never used the phrase global migration crisis and am pressing for changes to policy on policing our borders. MY idea on renegotiation is to have a fundamental change to our relationship so it is based on trade and mutual co-operation, outside the centralising treaties. What is wrong with that? Why do you want to attack the very people who are trying to help get us out of the mess of our current all too close relationship with the EU?

          • Narrow Shoulders
            Posted August 3, 2015 at 7:10 am | Permalink

            Reply to reply re why UKIP government was not elected.

            Mr Redwood a UKIP government will never be elected due to the nature of much of the electorate, voting against a party rather than for a party whose policies they believe in. The electorate are as bad as the politicians when it comes to conviction politics.

            Single transferable vote combined with FPTP @ 50% might give you a completely different picture.

            You would probably benefit from having a bit more support for your positions from like minded UKIP MPS : )

  11. Douglas Carter
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    It was a sign of Labour’s relative historic weaknesses that from the election of 1987, the only working opposition that Margaret Thatcher was exposed to in any real Political sense was from a small number of MPs behind her in the Commons. The notion of the permanent requirement for an effective Leader of the Opposition is rarely looked at but nonetheless critical for a proper Democracy.

    I’m neither a Corbyn supporter nor would I ever expect to be a Labour voter, so in those terms I look on my personal opinions here as solely academic. But in this current phase, where he seems to have taken on new celebrity status rather like Clegg was awarded after the first TV Debate in 2010, I see only parallels with the public face of the Labour Party of 1981-85. Sadly however, much of the political scrutiny within the media has become so shallow and limited that people such as Owen Jones are elevated to status of demi-Intellectual, where in 1982, he would only have stood shoulder-to-shoulder among fairly unremarkable fellow loud, ranting protesters.

    I genuinely believe that the core membership of the Labour Party hasn’t really changed since those years, and similarly that the notion they’re electing either an opposition Leader, or even a potential Prime Minister is actually lost on them. I don’t think it is coming into the consideration right now. I think they’re simply appending a preference for someone who is ‘their’ Candidate – so in those terms I don’t see any objection for my part. It’s their party, it’s their entitlement. The actual consequences flowing from that decision as yet unthought. (Albeit it would be extremely unwise of the PLP to immediately deselect him, as has been mooted by some observers).

    However, even if their selection is indeed Corbyn, and if, similarly he proves an electoral disaster for them, in future I see only more of the same. Labour sees ‘modernisation’ and ‘Blair’ as one and the same concept. That Prime Minister has made the basic premise of change so toxic I doubt it can ever visit Labour again. I genuinely believe we’re in an era of Journey’s End for Labour. I don’t see them breaking out of this decline now. Conversely I don’t see any other current party (specifically in their current state) being able to pick up on a gap Labour might leave behind. The resultant may well be an exponential increase in support for the stay-at-home party.

  12. Denis Cooper
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    It’s hard to believe that the Labour party would be so foolish as to choose Corbyn.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted August 2, 2015 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      Denis,

      I’m just amazed and even shocked to think there are people who still believe that more of the medicine that made the patient ill in the first place, is the way to go. It seems they’ve learned nothing from history. But perhaps this is a cloud that ultimately has a silver lining. I’d like to see the back of these lefties altogether, and if they go the way of the Dodo, then so be it.

      Tad

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 2, 2015 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

        The was an interesting article in the Spectator a week or two ago listing the vast damage done by our lefty universies “educating” various leaders around the World.

        We get more than enough lefty medicine in the UK from Osborne, Cameron and the Tories as it is.

    • John C.
      Posted August 3, 2015 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      Denis Cooper- Not surely too hard to imagine a Question Time in which everything Corbyn might say would be greeted by cheers and loud applause. There is still a large section of the electorate who are rabidly left wing, and, though it is of course too early to speculate, at the next election a failed and tired Conservative party, flaking off into a growing UKIP, could easily be replaced by Labour. They weren’t all that far behind at the last election, remember.

  13. William Long
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    In my eyes My Corbyn has the same merit as E. Milliband in that he offers the electorate the clear alternative to which they are entitled. Also, on the EU issue, he is the only current or declared potential, leader of any party except UKIP, who has at least said he would consider voting to leave.
    However any party of Government or Opposition that adopts extreme views will have the effect of moving the centre ground of debate towards its direction. This poses particular dangers for the Conservative Party at a time when its leadership is either unwilling to, or incapable of, delivering a clear proclamation of the merits of the Capitalist system in delivering prosperity and protecting individual freedom. Indeed the current Chancellor (and leadership pretender) ‘s main delight seems to be taking his opponents’ policies and gold plating them (e.g. the ‘Living wage’) or in petty point scoring such as his review of Deeds of Family Arrangement just because the leader of the opposition had made use of one.
    Mr Corbyn, if elected as seems likely, will have the huge advantage of a philosophy in which he believes, and the ability to promote it, over a Conservative leadership that at the moment has neither.

  14. JJE
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I see M Cazeneuve the French Interior Minister was quoted as saying that he has absolutely no idea what the U.K. is asking for in the renegotiation.

    It will be hard to get anywhere if no one has any idea what we want.

    We have seen in the Scottish referendum campaign that Mr Cameron has a disastrous lack of negotiation skills. We also know that every time he opens his mouth in Europe he winds everyone up with his arrogant attitude.

    Any chance of putting a grown up in charge of this negotiation before it becomes a total national embarrassment? Or do the Tories only have rank amateurs to call on?

    • A different Simon
      Posted August 2, 2015 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      I’d like to thank M Cazeneuve for his honesty . Wish our cabinet could be that truthful with us .

      Revealing isn’t it .

      Mr Cameron clearly isn’t actually after anything .

      The whole ruse is a ploy to pull the wool over the British electorates eyes and dupe them into implicitly consenting to ever closer union .

      • Boudicca
        Posted August 2, 2015 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

        The only part of Mr Cameron’s Bloomberg speech which was worth paying attention to was when he said “the democratic mandate for the EU is wafer thin.”

        Actually, it’s thinner than that. They don’t have one. And that’s what he was instructed to remedy.

    • alan jutson
      Posted August 2, 2015 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      JJE

      There are plenty of people in the Conservative party Cameron and Osbourne could ask to do the renegotiations, but they both lack the courage, trust and will to ask them.

      The simple solution would be to have a team of Eurosceptics from both the Conservative, Labour, and Ukip Parties to do the negotiations on our behalf, then you may see some real action.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 2, 2015 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      M Cazeneuve has absolutely no idea what the U.K. is asking for in the renegotiation indeed – does anyone?

      Does even Cameron have any idea, and when will he tell us if he has? His current stance looks totally absurd.

  15. turbo terrier
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    The classic proof that the leader of the opposition is important is happening right now with the immigrant problem. Because they have no elected leader in place the response to the problem is based upon typical party lines.

    There are times when irrespective of what side of the house you sit on Parliament has to unite and pull together to face the invasion threat that is increasing every day across the water.

    Fortunately one could argue is that the long term biggest threat to the Tory Party is way behind the other three candidates. The only thing constant in life is change and the Labour Party appears to be sticking to the same lines that bought about their near wipeout in the last election in certain areas of the country.

    It is fine to want to fight austerity but who pays in the long term?

    Who ever ends up leading the Labour party had very quickly forget about party dogma and wake up and smell the coffee on all the areas that are just about holding together throughout the nation. They have to change to become electable and in doing so they will provide valuable input into policies as long as the leader is believable and be seen to leading his/her party.

    This country is now proof as shown on the other TV channels the life that can be had on benefit. That to an immigrant is “streets paved with gold”

    For all those protesting at Folkstone against the “keep them out group”. Like in many areas across the UK you do not see people offering to open their doors and provide a sanctuary and sponsership to match their beliefs only the usual humanity and refugee line.

    If the Governments involved want to really stop it then they have to start playing hard ball, big time.

    Erect high voltage fences and declare the assembly areas as a military base etc ed
    But hopefully with the wrong leader selected it will be light years away before they get elected again.

    Our leader is beginning to look out of his depth, the secret to success in business is to get promotion that matches your limits of incompetence. Is it the same with politicians? Too many aspire for greater things in politics and to do that they have to keep a clean sheet. They lose sight of their beliefs and what they were elected for.

    Like the SNP politicians, nobody can publicly complain about policy and their aims. That is a dictatorship with no avenues open to improve anything for the rank and file. Empress Nick talks about that the people of Scotland want to stay in Europe, the problem with that is she and her ministers are not actually listening to the people. With her fighting austerity she wants to allow more illegal immigrants in!!! Fine as long as the UK Government picks up the bill.

    Reply The UK government does not own or control Calais.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted August 2, 2015 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

      No John, but we do own the terminal at Dover. Perhaps that should be shut until we find a sensible solution and then maybe the French will take us and our situation more seriously.

      • John C.
        Posted August 3, 2015 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

        That surely would be a dramatic financial catastrophe, a completely disproportionate response to a few thousand would be immigrants.
        Given the thousands and thousands of immigrants that we have allowed in, rightly or wrongly, over the last few years, I honestly can’t get worked up over a few more.
        I suspect people are almost irrationally angry because they feel we are being taken for a ride, mocked and made to look helpless. It is as though all the anger at the abuse of our generosity has had no effect whatsoever, that we are feebler and feebler in our response, that tough talking Cameron is more ineffective than even his severest critics had feared.

    • bigneil
      Posted August 3, 2015 at 1:27 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply – it seems the French don’t control it either.

  16. Iain Gill
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    The problem with all recent Leaders of the Opposition is that they are from that small self selected insular out of touch political class. They may well be in a different party but they generally have more in common with the prime minister than with the vast majority of the British public. The political class of all main parties have decided so many things of modern life against the will of the majority of the public and sought to avoid the argument by manipulating with their similarly PC media friends. We are being governed by a set of accepted views which are just not accepted by the vast majority of sane decent people, with no possibility of changing things through the ballot box. The opposition is not in parliament, the opposition is now on twitter and the rest of the web. And the lie and do something completely different once elected is shameful. Until and unless I see and hear mainstream politicians reflecting the views on, say, immigration, healthcare, and so on which is evident in all the pubs across the land, and not the narrow hardly different at all political class views, then I don’t see much hope of improvement. And in the meantime we are being steered evermore towards the cliffs.

  17. Bert Young
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    It is very wishful thinking to believe (or hope) that the leader of the opposition would think and behave in the manner the Government preferred . As the title suggests the role is to oppose and be a thorn in the side ; very seldom would the opposition want to support the Government other than in matters of extreme national importance .

    Mr. Corbyn is a man of the far left and , if he is selected , will want to lead his party back to the old days of anti-establishment and socialist free for all . Those of us who are older and wiser know that any such move would push its party into near oblivion ; the country has marched on and seen how those countries who veered towards socialism have undergone change to the right and given more support to individual rights .

    The Unions who have announced their support for Corbyn no longer enjoy a “block vote” condition , they too have been “individualised” and are obliged to accept the result of a majority . As individual wealth increases for the citizens of the UK , individual expression will also count for more .

    • Ian wragg
      Posted August 2, 2015 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      But net wealth is not about to increase. With Dave importing half a million foreigners every year we are running to stand still. The incomers are more inclined to vote for a Corbyn socialist utopia
      Dave jets off on holiday as our borders are being trashed by all and sundry.
      Farage is 100% correct.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted August 2, 2015 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        Good comments Ian

      • Hefner
        Posted August 2, 2015 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think the “incomers” will get the right to vote if they are neither British nor Commonwealth citizens.

        By the way, an interesting programme on BBC Radio4 two days ago about British agencies recruiting Portuguese nurses for the NHS, as it would seem the UK is unable to train enough of them. It has also been a similar story with doctors, specially for positions in A&E.

        I don’t seem to remember any outcry from the “usuals” on this site about what this says about the UK economic forecasting system or its education system. Maybe reducing furthermore the state will improve the situation?

        Also, according to the Telegraph (12/05/2015), Germany, Sweden, France, Italy, Switzerland, and the Netherlands are getting more asylum seekers than the UK.

        • ian wragg
          Posted August 2, 2015 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

          As soon as they are given indefinite leave to remain (which is almost certain) they can register to vote.
          The problem with the NHS is there are so many foreigners that they bare now a critical mass and they now look to their own.
          This is all part of the overall plan to homogenise us out of existence and pretending there aren’t enough UK applicants. When you import 500,000 foreigners each year, of course you are going to need more staff. Only the Government seems to be in the dark about this.

        • alan jutson
          Posted August 2, 2015 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

          Hefner

          Not enough UK Nurses in training !.

          Then blame those who have not set aside enough training places.

          That means either the Government, or the various training management set ups.

          It should not be difficult to forecast how many medical people we require years in advance, you just look at the history of normal natural wastage, calculate who is due to retire (you should have on record all of their ages) and plan accordingly with a margin of error in your favour.

          We demand certain standards from our own trained people but it seems we are prepared to accept less from those we recruit from abroad (poor language as well) simply does not make sense.

          Like so many Government run organisations it seems it is not fit for purpose.

        • libertarian
          Posted August 2, 2015 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

          Hefner

          In the case of nurses its not the lack of training places its the lack of people willing to be trained . Since Blair introduced the need for nurses to have a degree qualification the numbers have fallen drastically. In 2009 when it was first bought in the nursing unions warned that this would happen and it has. Why would you do a 3 year degree pay out £40k and run up massive debts so that you can empty bedpans?

          Qualified overseas nurses don’t need degrees

          Another government initiative failure

          • alan jutson
            Posted August 3, 2015 at 8:08 am | Permalink

            libertarian

            Absolutely agree with your points made.

          • stred
            Posted August 4, 2015 at 8:32 am | Permalink

            Also, having obtained a British degree and produced all the essays and theoretical stuff, they don’t want to clean and care for patients and prefer to become managers. Meanwhile the foreign nurses are recruited and their training may be inadequate and even language skills lacking.

  18. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Leader of the Opposition and in fact the Labour Party have been a waste of taxpayers money. Why?

    1. They proposed a freeze on electricity and gas prices which in the event would have prevented companies from lowering prices to the consumer.

    2. They advocated a minimum wage which would have been lower than that achieved by the normal increases to the Minimum Wage and certainly less than the new proposals of the ruling party.

    3. They refused to oppose the EU, opposed a referendum, thus attempting to weaken the negotiating position of the ruling party to get everyone at least a better deal.

    4. The now acting Leader of the Opposition, Harriet Harman, denounced the people in the ruling party advocating foreigners should be denied child benefits to be sent abroad as “How despicable that these people ( Tories ) are trying to take the food out of children’s mouths”. Weeks later it became Labour Party Policy in the Election and she supported this “despicable” policy with gusto and slurping of lips.

    5. They opposed the preventing of illegal migrants from entering our country with a starting point of Italy and Harriet Harman said it was ( yawn ) “despicable”. Now she has swallowed the despicable.

    The official Opposition has been a ball and chains on anyone in government trying to improve anything for the British people. The real Opposition within and without Parliament has in fact come from sections and individuals within the Tory Party but with a desire to improve and extend the betterment of our people.

    Some people say the Labour Party will be in permanent Opposition for a generation. More likely they will be a permanent Nuisance, a permanent Obstacle to rational thought and progress. Others will be the real Opposition.

  19. Kenneth
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Where I think the Left have gone badly wrong is to see the free market as its enemy. I agree with the view that a few individuals should not enjoy a large build up of capital. When this happens it means the market has been rigged and is out of balance. A true free market would never allow such hoarding because of the discipline of competition.

    Instead of removing the barriers to competition the Left have added more, creating wealth bubbles all over the place. The more regulations that are introduced the more we see the super-rich taking advantage of the loop-holes, price controls or the denial of new entrants into the market. The Left have then attempted to remedy the situation by adding yet more regulations, spinning the viscous circle even faster (all of this can be seen in the eu today). As more of this stuff gets cemented into law, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

    There is a gap in the market for any political party that embraces the free market. The Conservative Party, with its support for eu membership, wage controls, money-printing and other left wing policies have given up on the market. The Liberals gave up years ago. UKIP are now obsessed with immigration and want to be all things to all people.

    This leaves an opportunity for Labour to champion those who have been left behind by rigged markets it (and the Conservatives) created. Labour and the unions did a valuable service less than a century ago by helping to remedy the rigged market that was so dominated by land owners, factory owners and the titled. It should acknowledge that this went too far by the 1970s with unreasonable protection being afforded to strikers and other draconian employment laws.

    In the 1980’s and beyond, all political parties have been dominated by the power of the BBC (arguably this started in the 1960s). Many that would have entered politics in Mrs Thatcher’s first term saw a decimated Labour Party and took up the next best things: journalism and law. The BBC, with its enormous resources, was a welcome home for these socialists. Politics has been dominated ever since by these people and the generations they have since recruited. This has chilled diversity and has resulted in political parties – even UKIP – with very similar messages as they feed the monster and vie for air time on the tv.

    Since the BBC still takes the Labour Party seriously and does not magnify its ‘splits’ or other shortcomings (as it always does with the Conservatives and UKIP), if they were to champion small businesses and individuals (i.e. small government) and promote the free market as a means of fair wealth distribution, the Labour Party might just break through and even overtake the Conservatives. In my view, this is their only hope.

    I know this is probably a forlorn hope as Labour loves big government and tends towards authoritarianism and craves ‘respectability’. However Labour should not forget that the Jarrow marchers were not marching for more regulations or more welfare. They wanted to work. Labour snubbed the Jarrow marchers in 1936 and is still snubbing them to this day.

    • alan jutson
      Posted August 3, 2015 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      Kenneth

      Agree, Labour no longer represents the ordinary Working man/woman, they left them behind years ago.

  20. NickW
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    What is bizarre in the extreme is that any politician in any European Sovereign country is even considering the possibility of handing fiscal control of their Country to the European Government.

    This is a European Government that since the first Greek bailout has been effectively in charge of the Greek economy which it has not only destroyed, but has cost European taxpayers 240 billion Euros in the process.

    There are two explanations for this;

    The first explanation is that those responsible have taken the concept of crass and utter incompetence and developed it to levels unheard of in human history; the second explanation is that the destruction of the Greek economy is entirely deliberate and is intended to ensure that the European Government gains total control of Greece and its economy. (Job done).

    Either way, fiscal integration does not look like a future worth pursuing, partly because such rules as there are will continue only to be applied to the smaller countries of the EU, whilst Germany and France break those rules whenever they feel their interests require it.

    I have in mind Germany’s enormous trade surplus which is behind the EU’s problems, and which is covered by rules which are being carefully ignored, as are different problems in France.

    Which country will the EU destroy next? (As a guide, the small ones will be picked off first.)

    How can any politician in any party support this state of affairs?

    • NickW
      Posted August 2, 2015 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      There is a third explanation.

      Corruption on a vast scale.

      Whose pockets have that 240 billion Euros ended up in?

      It certainly isn’t the pockets of the Greek people.

      The only people in favour of that sort of Europe are those getting a cut of the proceeds.

  21. A different Simon
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Under normal circumstances a country would benefit from a strong and credible opposition .

    However , we have a weak and indecisive govt full of talkers and devoid of walkers which fails at everything they attempt ; Calais , promoting onshore oil and gas etc , etc .

    If Corbyn can tie Cameron in knots at PMQ and make his position untentable and thereby do rank and file members of the Conservative party and British citizens a favour then I’m right behind him .

    The Conservative party needs to kick out these useless , chinless posh boys and girls who are making such a mess and draw talent from a wider gene pool .

    Mr Redwood , unless your party does that , the indecisiveness of the current lot will be fatal and will just embolden the anarchists and we really will have civil disorder spilling out onto the streets .

  22. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    It is a sad Labour Party indeed that it has handed over its role of official Opposition to Conservative MPs within Parliament in regard to welfare, minimum wage, reduction in fuel bills and, where those MPs have patently failed in other matters such as checking migration, they have handed over their role to the French political party of Marine Le Pen who is to stand as the President of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais in the French regional elections in December. It is said she will win by a landslide as many people around Calais are fed up of the inaction of the French government in regard to illegal migration. She reckons she will solve the migration problem within Calais “within one day”. One thinks she is does not have in mind sniffer dogs and tennis court fencing.

  23. Rods
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    With a vote in the Labour leadership election costing £3 for an Affiliate membership before the cutoff date of August the 12th, this at the moment is a left wing call to arms and why there has been a surge in new members from the hard left. They are of course supporting Jeremy Corbyn which is why he looks like he is going to win.

    There are also rumours that many are joining with non-Labour views to Gerrymander the vote in Jeremy Corbyn’s favour, to make things ‘easier’ for the political party they do support, which I personally think is a very dangerous and irresponsible thing to do.

    Why dangerous and irresponsible?

    Oppositions don’t so much win elections as governments lose them and if the Conservatives fall out of favour by 2020 we could end up with a Government that does much damage to the country for a considerable length of time, and make us all poorer, like IMO Gordon Brown did.

    The previous 13 year Labour government, with their 10 years of economic mismanagement has left most of us with a considerable economic hangover. It has taken over 5 years of a slightly more responsible Conservative one to get earnings and disposable income back to 2008 levels, will take at least another 5 years to eliminate the deficit and there is still the long haul of using the tax surplus to reduce our sovereign debt down to a more comfortable 40%, so we are looking at 10 years of bad government costing 30 years of effort to put right.

    With Jeremy Corbyn to the left of Gordon Brown, what damage would a minimum of 5 years of Jeremy Corbyn cost us and the country and how long would it take to repair the damage?

    So all those that are supporting Jeremy Corbyn, all I can say, is be very careful with what you wish for!

  24. Tad Davison
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    ‘Labour still is out to lunch on the main issue of our day, our relationship to the emerging political union on the continent.’

    Labour needs to wake up and remember who it is the are supposed to represent. The blue-collar vote is ebbing away. They lost out big time to UKIP and the SNP for a reason, various reasons perhaps, and some of those reasons aren’t entirely compatible with the others.

    I keep hearing Labour politicians supporting yet more immigration, yet that isn’t the message coming back to me from the ordinary man in the street who are sick and tired of the swarms of people trying to getting in, and for the most part, succeeding. The same applies to the EU. The party wants more of it, yet the people are becoming increasingly hostile towards it. Any new leader of the Labour Party would need to address these issues and ament their stance, unless of course, they really DO want to stay out of office for a generation.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  25. Lifelogic
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    It might be nice to have someone who has sensible beliefs (and who stuck to them) leading the Tories rather than PR/spin & serial ratting PPE types perhaps.

    Is it too late to clone Lord Tebbit?

  26. Boudicca
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Not one of the contenders for the Labour leadership is really leadership material. They are all 2nd or 3rd raters. Mind you, we have a Conservative 2nd rater as PM.

    Cameron has already made it clear to the EU that it doesn’t matter what crumbs they offer, he will support and campaign for the UK to remain in the EU. The LibDems and Labour both support membership, regardless of the terms.

    There’s only one party leader who is unequivocal about getting out …. and that’s Mr Farage.

  27. forthurst
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    When the House is unanimous, it can mean that an important issue has not been thought through because its underpinings have not been examined by the Opposition; it is contrary to the wider interest and it provokes a retrospective shudder by its perps.

    I hope J Corbyn, if elected, would oppose foreign interventions, especially Syria. Many people have been given to believe that ‘the West’ which was responsible for the creation and training of the terrorists it now has branded ISIS, is trying to eliminate Da’ish; this is simply untrue; quite apart from the fact that Da’ish is still being assisted by some of our ‘allies’ in the region, the last thing the neocons want is for Da’ish to be eliminated with Assad still in power in Syria, coupling this with the fact that Turkey has been bombing Kurdish positions in Syria because they fear the creation of a nascent Kurdistan, it is clear that we could become involved in a situation which would be wholly opaque and almost certainly neither promote peace nor any British interest.

    As to the EU, it would be inconceivable if Corbyn were to support TTIP, a monstrous attempt by US Corporations, having been given free reign in the USA, to override European legislatures in their duty to put the interests of the people above those of foreign Corporate profit. As far as is is known, unlike in the USA where political donations have smoothed the passage of Corporate friendly legislation, no money has changed hands in Brussels, but it is undeniable that the Commission is being besieged by the self-same Corporate interests to favour them over those on behalf of whom they purport to act.

  28. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted August 2, 2015 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    The EU issue and immigration is probably why labour lost the last election with the hope that the Conservatives could perhaps change the downhill decline of our relationship.
    The labour party looks to have potential fine leaders in Jeremy Corbyn or Andy Burnham, but whoever steps in will not make a difference to the EU relationship and because of this, whilst we are still hanging on to GB by the skin of our teeth, they will not get into power.

    It is nevertheless useful to have someone knowledgeable about European , global and domestic issues and has lived through times where we were British and proud of it . Empty rhetoric is transparent. Many of my age group, when we were in our twenties and thirties, accepted that politicians knew what they were doing and we voted for superficial reasons .We trusted newspaper reports , saw television reports and believed everything . Why should we not ? We were honest Brits.This does not obviously apply to people like yourself who have always been involved .Either the Uk has become an untrustworthy place with all sorts of underhanded tactics down at our middle class level or we are growing up. Either way we only believe what there is first hand evidence for.

  29. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted August 3, 2015 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Those of you who are old enough might care to cast your minds back to the Socialist Government of 1966 to 1970, when there were price, wage, dividend, investment and forex controls on a grand scale. And the Trade Unions had widespread exemptions from the Rule of Law.

    If you want a rerun, vote Corbyn.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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