Look, I'm sympathetic to the idea that a coherent Government needs a functioning opposition. I'm also sympathetic to the fear (espoused principally by Matthew Parris) that without a credible Labour Party to act as a buffer, much of the glue that holds the Tory party together will disappear. But this argument, made by Anne Perkins in the Guardian today
, is just bizarre:
The Conservative party once recognised the importance of allowing opponents the space to represent their supporters’ views – that’s why Stanley Baldwin let a minority Labour government take office for the first time in 1924. Now, according to some reports, the party is plotting the exact reverse: to squeeze Labour out of the debate entirely, with a baptism of fire for whoever emerges victorious in September.
What? Baldwin didn't "let" Labour take office in 1924 - he lost his majority in December 1923 and lost the King's Speech debate
in January 1924. And all Governments try and frame their opponents - that's what Gordon Brown's famous "dividing lines
" were all about.
This new Tory style of trying to freeze-frame opposition leaders into a position from which they can never successfully escape is a kind of political torture porn. It is undemocratic. It is, potentially, even dangerous.
This is just weird: how on earth can it be undemocratic to hold votes in the Commons on matters that divide the parties?
As Britain’s nation-building adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan should bitterly remind everyone, among the many preconditions for a stable democracy is a culture of mutual respect.
One of Britain's major parties has a history of dehumanising their opponents
and one party identifies itself as the only true moral force
in politics. It isn't the Tories.