Alan Johnson sparked a political storm today when he suggested that the more popular governing party might lend ministers to the struggling opposition sector.
‘It simply isn’t enough for the most popular and effective party at the polls to govern without regard for other areas of Parliament, and the Government must now use its privileged position to help the less fortunate.’
While some have welcomed the move, many are arguing that it is patronizing to the many competent and capable opposition MPs who are doing their best in difficult circumstances and claim that Labour no longer understands the enormous problems of working in the very challenging opposition sector.
David Cameron said, ‘Look, they’ve had ten years now of setting policy, rather than chasing it, of setting economic parameters instead of saying ‘Oooh, you really don’t want to do that’. We have many fine examples of very competent shadow ministers so for Mr Johnson to say we need help – well, he’s just plain wrong. We’re doing very nicely thank you at what we do, and succeeding in not making any progress whatsoever.’
Menzies Campbell was more upbeat on the proposals, especially the part where the government will be required to take in opposition MP’s on secondment. ‘It’s clearly an admission that parties like mine are failing badly and I and my colleagues relish the opportunity of getting our hands on the much better facilities and skills of a long established, well-oiled government machine. It is after all, a privilege that the electorate would otherwise be unlikely to give us.’
Other Opposition front benchers who had initially welcomed the move later changed their mind when they saw which ministers they were going to receive; ‘Hang on a minute, look at this list; ‘Prescott, Mandelson, Reid, Blunkett’ – this isn’t a helping hand; they’re trying to finish us off!’
30th May 2007