A traumatised Labour party today looks in a worse state than it did the morning after the poll. Instead of accepting its job — opposing the Tories — it is descending into an unedifying internal battle about what might win the next election in five years time.
There is plenty of time to find the vision that will convince voters when the time comes. Battling about that vision between Blairites and the leftists is deflecting the party from the immediate question of how to make life difficult for Cameron.
Andy Burnham tells us he would ditch on of Ed Miliband’s more sensible policies of having no Europe referendum unless there was a substantial shift of powers to Brussels. He wants an early referendum and tough negotiations on immigration.
The Observer interviewed Burnham and reported he would,
overturn Labour’s policy of only holding a referendum if there were a substantial transfer of power to Brussels. He said he would back a referendum wholeheartedly, hoping for a new deal and a yes vote. He said the date should be moved for the sake of British businesses who had complained of continued uncertainty.
If there is to be a referendum it is best that it is done as soon as possible, but that is no reason to pander to the little Englanders. Cameron who has been pushed into a referendum by his backbenchers hardly needs the opposition joining them in demanding tighter rules to restrict free movement.
The risk of the county voting to leave the EU is too great to start playing games.
If Burnham really wants to make life difficult for Cameron he should have joined the SNP and Plaid Cymru in demanding that a vote to leave would need a majority in all the countries of the union. For a government which is pledged to rule for the whole UK and not just its southern heartland that is an awkward question.
It might also help heal the rift between the Scottish and English labour parties.
In the meantime the SNP has set out the key issues on which it will oppose the government and its Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, telling ITN:
Effective SNP opposition to the Tories will certainly be good for Scotland – but leading this progressive alternative will also be to the benefit of people throughout the UK.
Their opposition plan includes fighting the repeal of the Human Rights Act which is shaping up to be one of the most dangerous policies for the Conservatives with some of its own MPs preparing to defy the whips.