Your correspondents and letters pages rightly focus on the future challenges for Labour and the Liberal Democrats, shell-shocked by the election. “Is Starmer more Major than Blair?”, asks Peter Kerr – but is Starmer more John Smith, perhaps?
Recovery is not enough now; inspiring vision is also needed. Harold Wilson, another exemplar, also ran the modernisation vision (‘we cannot fight the battles of the future with the rusty weapons of the past’).
Ed Davey needs to succeed in the double task of inspiring passionate pro-Europeans, while also proving the Lib Dems are not just a ‘one-trick-pony’ party – another vision challenge.
Ever since Jo Grimond, the Lib Dems and Liberals have been the party most passionately in favour of Britain being in the European partnership of nations and need to continue to inspire us pro-European internationalists. But a positive vision of ‘power to the people’ is also needed again; not power to the powerful, or to the central state, but to people and communities.
But spare a thought also for the Conservatives, whose party has been taken over by Vote Leave. Where is a natural conservative to go?
The party of pragmatism and good business sense has been sacrificed on the altar of the hardest Brexit, and the party of law and order has been superseded by the party of law-breaking and braggadocio.
The Liberal Democrats are charged with being undemocratic for wanting to revoke Brexit had they won a majority in the general election, and the collapse of the ‘Red Wall’ suggests that northern working class voters no longer think that the Labour Party best represents their interests.
But what of the Conservative Party (or indeed the Conservative and Unionist Party) – surely the most inappropriate name of them all? A dictionary definition of ‘conservative’ is “disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change”.
The Johnson government is embarked on an approach of ‘disrupting’ (destroying?) our economy, our planning rules, the BBC, the judicial system, our democracy, and probably the Union. Should they not be challenged on their misleading name, surely the ‘Destructive Party’ would be a more honest one?
Sir Keir Starmer has made a solid start but instead of grasping the opportunity to unite opposition parties and the electorate behind a long-overdue agenda for political reform he is now backing Brexit, writing in the Sunday Telegraph last weekend that the “Leave-Remain divide is over” and we need to “Get on with Brexit and defeat the virus. That should be the government’s mantra”. These are words that could be straight out of Boris Johnson’s mouth.
After a crushing election result, the Lib Dems have yet to wake up. In a political broadcast last month, they seemed more concerned about ‘standing up for immigration’ and open borders than getting Britain back on its feet.
Meanwhile, Johnson now confirms that the government will spend £120 million we urgently need for more immediate priorities, on a celebration of UK innovation and exceptionalism, dubbed a ‘festival of Brexit’ Are our politicians serious?
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