21 November 2006

You can't beat something with nothing

The great sin of Euroscepticism is now being repeated by the Girlie Party under the tutelage of the Boy Wimp, according to Irwin Stelzer.

As director of Economic Policy Studies at the Hudson Institute, Stelzer concentrates on the Boy’s economic policy. Gordon Brown, he writes, is surely something, "intelligent, dedicated, experienced and a man with an economic record". Yet the Girlies are planning to unseat him with nothing.

The Boy probably hasn't read this yet... and won't take any notice when he does. He would be advised to do so - Stelzer may no longer be a friend of the Girlies but he is a close associate of Murdoch.

But the Boy is in Darfur, "sharing the pain" of survivors in refugee camps, charging himself up so that he can emote with profundity for when he gets to Westminster - after a comfortable trip back in his private jet. Yet, for all the air miles, is he actually offering an alternative policy on Darfur? The international community must keep the pressure on the Sudan government, seems to be what he is saying. That's a policy? That was worth the emissions?

Elsewhere, we read of the diary of Gunner Thornton, killed in September while on active service in Iraq. In that diary, he constantly noted having to wait for help to arrive while out on patrol because the soldiers' armoured vehicles had broken down. After a particularly hard day he wrote: "Dear Tony, Give the army better equipment and stop putting our lives at risk, thanks Thorny."

Thornton wrote of the sinking morale of peacekeeping troops facing stonings by villagers and the ever-present threat of sniper or mortar attack. What, therefore, is the Girlie policy on equipment for the troops? How, for instance, should the government address the threat of mortar attack? I would really like to know, Gerald.

From most of the policies, of course, the Boy has his commissions up and running, and they will come up with answers in due course. But, on some issues – many issues – we can't wait.

It is all very well marking time on some things, until one or other of the Boy's groups comes up with a discussion paper. But life (and death) goes on in the meantime. Policy on things like Army equipment is not only being made but implemented by the government. An effective opposition is about taking on these immediate issues and forcing change, even though not in office.

By harrying government in Parliament, by embarrassing it, by harnessing public opinion and the power of the media, by arguing properly and coherently, and by communicating its resolve to effect change, an opposition party can make things happen. And, in so doing, it demonstrates that it is fit for government.

That, my colleague Christopher Booker has observed many times. People will vote an opposition party into government when it shows itself capable of opposition. That, in the final analysis, is was what got NuLabour into power in 1997. Under Blair's leadership, Labour finally became a credible opposition and people were thus prepared to believe they could be a credible government. But the Girlies haven't yet learned the trick of effective opposition. As Stelzer writes, "All they have to offer is plenty of nuthin'".

As another colleague of mine writes, "Stand by for seven or eight years of a Brown government".