Armchair politics


I’m really not, honestly.

What I’m pointing out (possibly arrogantly I accept) is that we all expect the opposition to do better than it does. My point is simply that under our system of parties that can never happen. All oppositions are ineffective, because the system is built that way.

In exactly the same way we do not have a system where the govt of the day has to take any notice of public opinion. They are in power for the duration of the term and are allowed under the system to put through laws etc that they want. All they need to do is get their MPs to vote for it and sod the opposition.

The current govt is now slinging out a few bones to the public, student fee cap to name one, because it lost a working majority and is now is in a coalition of sorts with a smaller party. They are doing this with an eye to the next election not because they believe it’s a good idea. If they thought it was a good idea they’d have done it already and/or put it in the manifesto.

It is politics


PMQs is a absolute waste of time. Nobody cares about the questions which are never, ever answered anyway. All that happens is that tedious and inane insults are traded.


Ed Zachary


This. Exactly this. Government policies have changed not because Labour was able to force them to do it before the election, when you’re saying they weren’t able to make a difference. They weren’t able to make a difference to the government. The government did indeed laugh. But they made a pretty big difference to the voters. Those voters saw what Labour did and chose to support them when election time came. Perhaps more importantly they saw what the government did (i.e. laugh) and they chose to poke them in the eye when election time came.

When parliament was the most important stage there was, the business of combat at the despatch box was make-or-break. Then came the newspapers, which gave the politicians an alternative forum. But the challenge element was to quite an extent lost. Next, much more seriously, came the broadcast media and the internet. The broadcast media were able, to some extent, to put challenge back. Politicians could be persuaded to point out the defects in one another’s policies face-to-face, or at least face-to-interviewer’s-face. The internet isn’t so good at this. Now the politicians can hide in their safe spaces and the real-time scrapping goes on between their supporters. I fear that as voters pay less attention to parliament this element of really putting policies through the fire of real-time scrutiny may be lost.



Exactly my point. The opposition party of the day can not oppose the govt in any meaningful way. It can only offer alternatives and hope the electorate agrees with them enough to cast their votes their way.

I don’t accept the despatch box has ever been that useful. I think it’s always been a vanity exercise TBH. To repeat myself a govt with a working majority have never said ‘ah, good point Mr opposition leader, we’ll get right on that’. A sufficiently majority allows the PM and cabinet to also ignore the fringes of its own party.


I don’t buy that. Sure if the government has a landslide, 100+ majority then the opposition struggles to do much. But if the majority is small, then the government has to pay real attention to the moderates in its own party. Assuming the opposition has a clue, it can use this to prevent a lot of extreme policies.

Neither main party is terribly united, so strong opposition pulls the government towards the centre. Weak opposition that tables lunacy fails to engage with the government moderates, so allows the government, even with nothing in terms of majority, to do what it wants.


I’m sorry but I don’t think Government policies have changed much. They were going to cut the transfer to Universities anyway. Now, with a cap on fees, they are effectively reducing the funding the the tertiary sector. Like giving nurses a pay rise without giving the NHS any more money (in nominal terms).

All they are doing is to cut funding further in real terms and dress it up as something else. The Universities will increase capitation which will inevitably affect standards (or ‘the student experience’ as we call it nowadays :roll_eyes:) Austerity is austerity, just like Brexit is Brexit.


Agreed. But they are presenting it as a caring cap on fees for the optics


And a useful opposition could/should/would have torn them a new one over this by now, and possibly pointed out what a farce the student loan system is while they were at it (and the proposed changes to that).


How does it do that though? Again, the govt and it’s own backbenchers do not have to take any notice of the opposition. When MPs ‘rebel’ against their own govt it’s usually for other reasons than the issue at hand, i.e. to spank the PM around a bit to show they’re unhappy. The tory backbenchers did this after the recent election debacle for that very reason.

The parties are never united on all issues. The MPs in any party are a loose coalition who agree on broad principles. The tories generally prefer a smaller state and lower taxes, labour prefer higher taxes and a larger state. To take the EU as one example both of the main parties have been split internally on the details since we joined in the 70’s


Here you go.

“The manifesto is dead in the water” said one Tory aide …



They have. Labour have been arguing against cuts since the 2010 election. It may not have been in a way you would like but they have done it.

But again shouting about cuts etc in and out of parliament has little effect to govt with a working majority.

Were labour in govt with a majority and they were raising taxes to increase spending on, say the NHS the tory opposition would be arguing against (I’m suggesting here) the tax hike but the labour govt wouldn’t take any notice all the time they could get legislation through.


Ha ha ha ha ha! Seriously, since when did a manifesto actually map into a space where the policies that are promised = the policies that are delivered. That particular manifesto was an absolute joke. It basically said Mrs May is nicer than Mr Corbyn (possibly true, but who gives one) and strong and stable (repeat to fade)…otherwise it said less than nothing.


Amazing that supposedly intelligent people can argue that a strong opposition doesn’t indirectly influence government policy.


I’m learning a lot. I hadn’t realised that arranging a shambles so bad that they had to delay the Queen’s speech was their plan all along.



Again I’m not being awkward or argumentative for the sake of it but when did it last happen?


Start with the poll tax and work forward?


This a lot.


It’s so obvious I can’t even be arsed or repeating myself, or valvebloke, or the example you’ve just given. He’s on a wind up.


You’re suggesting that Neil Kinnock’s labour opposition persuaded Hilda to change her mind and that it wasn’t the pitched battles in the streets which scared the shit out the tory MPs who then dropped Hilda like hot coals?