Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 20 August 2015


On 12th September the Labour party unveil their new leader. If it is Jeremy Corbyn MP, my prediction is that David Miliband will lead them into the next election. But they will have consigned themselves to two years of chaos.

My own party did a similar thing in 2001 in selecting IDS as our leader – not quite such a forlorn hope perhaps - but nonetheless never going to win a general election. It coincided with two years when the Labour government did some daft things including dragging us into a war in Iraq on a false premise; something that might not have happened if the opposition had asked the right questions. I well remember voting to change our leader while on a visit to North Korea in 2003, perhaps one of the few people ever to have voted in a free and fair election in that country.

It is very important in a mature democracy for the party of government to feel under close scrutiny from a credible and active opposition party. I know many constituents would prefer for us to all get around the table and agree on everything, but that is when we produce our worst decisions – when there is no opposition. Our system is adversarial and it requires an effective opposition to make it work. The government brings forward proposals and it is the job of all backbenchers, but especially Her Majesty's loyal opposition, to test those policies to destruction.

That is why although part of me would rejoice if the Labour party were daft enough to select Mr Corbyn, the wiser part of me would regret it. It would give us a free hand for two years until they reversed their big mistake and summonsed the only potential Prime Minister they have got back from the USA to sort it out. It would be two years of intense navel-gazing on the left and we can do without it.

The other problem with a distracted opposition is that it tends to result in the party of government becoming its own opposition. We are likely to have enough fun and games next year (probably) during the great EU referendum debate and vote without inflicting more torture upon ourselves with a series of rebellions made necessary by distracted turbulence across the chamber.

The Labour party has a proud history and made a massive contribution to our country. I hope they can somehow avoid a moment of madness.

posted by Gary @ 09:05