It should attack the government's analysis, not its motivesby Philip Collins / October 15, 2015 / Leave a comment
Published in November 2015 issue of Prospect Magazine
The Labour Party likes opposition more than it dare admit. There is a protest reflex in Labour which relishes the business of being against. Government is a troublesome business which inevitably compromises the purity of belief. In opposition, which demands no actions and no decisions but only words, Labour can remain intellectually unsullied. It can complain and shout and feel better about itself. There was more than a sense, during the 2010 parliament, that Labour, especially on the NHS and on welfare, was relishing opposition far too much.
The Labour Party is now governed by the professional protestors in its midst. Jeremy Corbyn can hardly ever have addressed a meeting in which the audience did not already agree with him before he began. He has never before had to trouble himself with deeds or win an argument with colleagues or set a collective line. He has never, in short, worked in politics before. He has worked in protest, which is a different occupation. Even opposition, official opposition of the sort that the Labour Party is constitutionally obliged to conduct in parliament, is quite distinct from protest. When the conference season finishes and the dust settles on Corbyn’s extraordinary rise to prominence, he needs a strategy to oppose the government.