Labour and the inevitability of opposition

Labour going into opposition is, writes Paul Richards, as inevitable as death; it may not happen in 2010, but it will happen one day and we should be planning for the event in the way an old dear might pop down to the Co-op for a funeral plan.

Paul lost his job — special advisor to Hazel Blears — when his boss resigned and so may have more reason than most to feel despondent. But politics is a rough game and I’m sure Paul is bouncing back already (we were contemporaries at university). He is simply wrong to imply that Labour is suffering from a bout of irrational denial and needs to wake up and smell the coffee.

Taking time out to plan for defeat in the hope of avoiding some sort of post-election civil war would be futile. Should we lose, there will be plenty of time to ask ourselves why and people will argue long and loud whatever. And, yes, it is an exercise that would damage morale and make the next election much harder to win.

But more importantly Labour needs to reserve all its energy for fighting to win the next election. Instead of breaking up into factions itself, Labour needs to better its understanding of the various factions within the Conservative Party. The Tory manifesto is far from being a done deal. Foolish Cameron, desperate to avoid damaging rows, has left many internal disputes unresolved. Only this month we have seen him forced to write off an MEP as an eccentric, yet that same MEP is playing a key role in writing the party’s manifesto.

The real risk for Cameron as the election approaches and people rightly demand to see the Tories’ plans, is that all the rows he’s so far avoided take place over the next few months. Labour activists need to be in there, stirring things up.

Paul should take his inspiration from John Prescott, who has been hounding Cameron for a debate on the NHS. That’s the way to do it!

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