As long as the debate on immigration is hijacked by the most self-righteous on the left and those pursuing a divisive, xenophobic, anti-welfare agenda on the right, a sensible discussion remains out of the question. If such extremism and infighting among the political classes continue to dominate the debate, the concerns of ordinary people will doubtless go ignored for the sake of political point-scoring.
George Osborne spoke for 55 minutes on Wednesday afternoon but, amid the bluster and the boasts, failed to mention the cost of living crisis even once. Instead, this out-of-touch Chancellor used the Budget to claim that everything is going smoothly, when we all know he has missed his targets on growth, living standards and on balancing the books by 2015.
With a budget that achieves the exact opposite of the objectives the Chancellor has set himself we are all wondering what will come out of the Ministry of Truth next. A Localism Act that centralises planning perhaps; or a Big Society that cuts benefits for the poor and vulnerable?
It is clear that David Cameron's backbenchers have lost faith and the public have lost trust. We all know that the EU needs to change, and we must not be complacent about the challenges that Europe faces today. That is why Ed Miliband set out last week a set of sensible and serious reforms that would work to make the EU work better for Britain.
After decades of pensions and savings policy being the 'Cinderella' of Treasury priorities - George Osborne today unleashed reforms for the thrifty that are bound to capture the imagination of the very voters on which he now pins his hopes.
Politicians from all parties have traditionally struggled to make their rhetoric on immigration chime with the British public's views. New findings from Ipsos MORI showing a divergence of public opinion on the subject, may explain why.
Not only should we question what the Conservative vision of a hard-working society looks like in reality, we should also remember who is evangelising it and why. When it comes to work and family backgrounds the Coalition cabinet could not be more unrepresentative of the run-of-the-mill British family.
The post-Thatcher Conservative party has morphed into a strange Hayekian-Faragist hybrid, where the logic of fear of others is bound up with a refusal to countenance economic alternatives to modern crisis-producing, financialised capitalism.
Like countless others, I was inspired and enthused by Tony Benn and his passion for politics. And I consider myself lucky to have appeared on telly with him. Once.
Recently, I found myself involved as a "Twitter expert" in a "radio debate" about swearing on social media. It went so well that they missed out publishing that week's show podcast and I said "sir" live on air, which while it isn't a swear word, is a feature of my speech that really annoys me that I'm trying to eliminate.
There have been some heartfelt and heartwarming tributes to Tony Benn today from people across the political spectrum, but it is necessary to unpick some of the narrative that is woven into these tributes.
Martin Luther King left us in no doubt that "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." In such moments, throughout his long political career, history will record that Tony Benn stood with the people.
It is a testimony to Benn's mindset that he was befriended by those whose political beliefs were shivering polar opposites to his own. He will be missed by both sides of the House more than any other figure I can recall.
Tony Benn's speeches were often punctuated with the same quotes from the Bible to Chinese philosophers. He passionately opposed cynicism and urged people to engage in politics. He was a tremendous Parliamentarian throughout his fifty years as an MP yet his political authority was as great outside the House of Commons as in the chamber.
A few years ago, when I was compiling an anthology, modestly entitled Democracy (published by Mainstream and also available as an e-book, since you ask) I wanted to include something from Benn's battle to renounce his peerage. Ever generous, he gave me a copy of the speech he was not allowed to deliver, and which had never been published... This is what Tony Benn wanted to say.
Ed Miliband's announcement that the Labour Party would only commit to an in/out EU referendum in the event of major EU treaty change sets up a significant fault line between his party's policy and that of the Conservatives.