Frank Field on the 'Darkness at the Heart of the Labour Party'
Harold Wilson asserted that the Labour party was a moral crusade or it was nothing. The McBride affair has left Labour members looking at nothing. That is the reality check that McBride has wrought on the party.
The whole of the government's energy should be spent on governing now and building a programme from which, within and year, we will be seeking permission to rule for another five years.
Far from helping sketch out a new roadmap, the McBride activities shine a searchlight on the paucity of the government's programme.
Week after week MPs have been turning up but with almost no serious work to do. There is the odd bill to be sure. But there is no legislative programme to speak of. Even the debates that are put on to fill in time are ones that deny MPs a vote. The whole exercise is vacuous.
Labour MPs are left staring into the abyss - that nothingness of Harold Wilson's statement. There is a wish amongst all sections of the PLP for the government to start governing. We wouldn't care too much whether the ideas were Blairite or non-Blairite, as long as we could give the impression of supporting a government that was using the next year to mark out why we should stay in office.
We have lived through an age of record public expenditure provision, but are now entering one of increasing cuts. There have been some beneficial results from this huge tax-payer largesse, but they in no way match up to what radicals predicted would be the outcome.
Have we been on the wrong track, and if so, what should now be our approach? Or is the task to look much more carefully how each pound of tax-payers' money is spent so we get a much bigger bang for our buck? Instead of this debate, we see the energy at the heart of Number 10 going into trying to smear the opposition.
It is this contrast between how we should be behaving, and what has been exposed, that is the real killer. A necessary government information machine has been corrupted by a spin that seeks not to inform but control and, if needs be destroy. And it has been in existence for over a decade.
McBride sat on the Prime Minister's political War Cabinet. If this is the war the Prime Minister thinks the country wants he is in for a very rude awakening. In the meantime, Labour supporters are left bewildered and wondering what happened to the moral crusading side of our mission.
Poor old Labour party.
Poor old Labour Party indeed.
Come on, Mr Field. Cross the floor.