Britain benefits from a strong opposition

If you believe what you read in the papers, then Jeremy Corbyn will be the next leader of the Labour Party.

Private polling has suggested that Mr Corbyn has a substantial lead over his rivals, Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham. Were the polling predictions realised, it would cap a remarkable saga in the history of the Labour Party.

The mere suggestion of Mr Corbyn’s candidacy has been greeted with support from some, but a significant level of derision from a number of political commentators, who’ve claimed his election would smack of the election of Michael Foot. It would, some have claimed, make Labour permanently unelectable.

Such is suggestion that Mr Corbyn’s election could be detrimental to Labour, that some more conservative groups have begun advising their audiences as to how to vote for the man considered a radical left-winger. Their logic is that getting Mr Corbyn elected will boost the chances of Prime Minister David Cameron and his successors holding onto Downing Street.

Mr Cameron for his part has admitted to his own MPs that he is attempting to capitalise on Labour’s disarray while the Party elects its new leader.

One can forgive Mr Cameron for attempting to make hay while the sun shines. It is, after all, what any sensible political consultant would advise. But efforts by non-Labour members to get Mr Corbyn elected in the belief he would make Labour un-electable leave a bad taste in the mouth, whether such a suggestion is fair comment or not. And they are bad for British politics.

The fact is that British politics requires strong opposition to the government. It acts as a sense check and source of scrutiny. And it keeps the government on its toes with the knowledge that the opposition could take power at the next election.

External influence of the Labour leadership contest might sound a bit of fun. But while it might help other parties, it won’t help British politics.