I’ve been given a great opportunity

Stewart Jackson MP's Westminster Life column in the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Stewart Jackson MP's Westminster Life column in the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
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Last week, after 5 years on the back benches, I was asked to become a Government “aide”, as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the new Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the European Union – basically David Davis’ eyes and ears in Parliament and also part of history: in being at the very centre of one of the most fascinating and unique areas of Government work – restoring our country to being an independent self- governing Parliamentary democracy and global trading nation, free from the shackles of a failing EU after the vote for Brexit om 23rd June – that’s leaving the EU – not the continent of Europe!

I never thought I’d be doing such a job again, not least because I’d always, to put it politely, tended to march to the beat of my own drum but what a great opportunity - How could I refuse such an offer from the Prime Minster? Whilst I have had to give up – after 4 fascinating years – my place on the Public Accounts Committee, I believe the new role was too good an opportunity to decline.

Our new PM has cut a dash: Even her fiercest critics would have to admit that Theresa May has made a great start as Prime Minister – quietly competent, authoritative, confident and unshowy – she has a massive challenge in the next few years, with a small majority in the Commons, big decisions on tax and spending, tricky decisions on infrastructure projects like airport capacity and expansion and new nuclear power plants, economic turbulence, refocusing on fairness and social justice (as she stated on the steps of 10 Downing Street on 13th July), as well as keeping the constituent countries of the UK together and winning the UK the best possible deal as we exit the European Union. Phew! Quite an in-tray….

Reshuffles are always tough – many MPs will be angry at being sacked or passed over and a number will be troublesome and irreconcilable to the new PM – but that’s politics and there’s a broad understanding that it’s a rough business and not always fair. However, the capacity of my party to unite, reconfigure, cohere and keep moving forward without all out civil war is astonishing: like that of a political Doctor Who.

By contrast, my many decent and longstanding Labour-voting constituents must be in despair at the state of their own party, which in both Parliament and in the country is now an unelectable shambles: With a hopeless Leader, few if any policies, an angry Hard Left activist base divorced from the concerns of most voters and a Parliamentary Party in open revolt and party members likely to re-elect Jeremy Corbyn in September, the possibility of a split into two separate parties is more likely than in the last 30 or more years.

Now I’ve been a member of my party since a teenager in 1982 and have fought the Labour Party for many years and I’m certainly no friend of Peterborough Labour Party - but I know many good and honourable Labour MPs and they deserve better than Jeremy Corbyn and his adolescent Trotskyist platitudes.

The country also needs a viable and credible opposition, in order to properly hold the present Government to account in Parliament. No one benefits from the situation now of feeble student union infighting and silly slogans.

Mr Corbyn is therefore betraying his party, the 
country and Labour voters and he must know that his principles are worthless if he selfishly destroys his own party in pursuit of them and any chance therefore of power.