To their credit, Labour are clearly seeking to exploit the Government’s evident discomfort over their inability to get ahead of the news agenda and restore their credibility with voters. The latest examples of Government incompetence and dishonesty – the news that Britain is now officially in its first double-dip recession since the 1970s and the latest revelations from the Leveson enquiry about the indefensibly close relationship between Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, and the Murdoch empire – are simply another sign that the wheels are starting to come of the bus.
But the real question is whether Labour are prepared to move beyond Prime Minister’s Questions knockabout and articulate a progressive alternative to the seemingly endless regime of cuts and austerity. It’s all too evident that Labour lack anything approaching a convincing strategy to convince voters that they offer a genuine alternative to the deficit reduction narrative. And while recent polls indicate a significant Labour lead overall, voters remain unconvinced about their competence on the economic front. This means going beyond opportunistic responses to the latest events and articulating the case for socialism.
After all, as Erskine May, the Parliamentary ‘bible’, sets out, the role of the Opposition is to challenge the Government and call it to account for its actions. Before the damage caused by the Con-Dems becomes irreversible, and with significant further cuts already planned in this and the next spending round, the shadow cabinet need to do some serious soul-searching and ask themselves why they are in Parliament in the first place. Frankly, if they don’t, it will become all too clear that Ed Miliband is taking his official salary of over £73,000 as Leader of the Opposition under false pretences and the Party will face the consequences at the next election.