The sleight of hand by which the return of the New Labour original team to the current Brown regime has been presented as the reconciliation of serious opposition in government, has fulfilled a long standing New Labour intention: to present opposition as being within Labour itself, and the official Opposition as simply being irrelevant to government.
The refusal to acknowledge any value in the Conservative (and Liberal Democrat)'s responsible willingness to act with the ruling party in managing the financial, and shortly to be economic crisis, seeking to emphasize that only within Labour can power and authority to act be found, is dangerous. It is also short-sighted and self-seeking to an unprecedented degree, but it is the dangers that are important now.
First because Brown has got himself into a position where he is making political jibes and accusations against banks and other financial institutions with whom it is essential there should be reliance on full and open confidence; instead the Times reports:
'The Government is furious with the banks for apparently divulging details of their meeting with the Chancellor at which they asked him to speed up the injection of taxpayers money into their coffers.
Mr Brown’s spokesman said the Government would not be engaging in irresponsible speculation, strongly implying that the banks had...'
Second, the expertise and contacts available to the Conservative Opposition, most particularly in a crisis like this, are not being called upon for the benefit of the country. Rather they are being turned down for the benefit of a Labour 'image of self' important only in a political game-plan.
Third, if the Opposition is not to be accepted as a co-operative and helpful force in these dire times, then it must consider and judge the regime's actions according to what it knows, and its estimation of the capabilities of a very impaired prime minister.
To force a concerned and anxious to help part of the governance of the country to monitor and where necessary oppose is an act of profound political ineptitude. It is also a denial of long-settled democratic practice in the governance of our country.
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