THE BLOG

We May Not Like the Job - But We Owe It to People to Lead the Opposition

13/08/2015 10:22 BST | Updated 12/08/2016 10:59 BST

Everyone knows that, at any job interview, they will ask you where you see yourself in five years' time. It would be foolhardy not to prepare for that question.

But it would also be a bit daft to only prepare for that question. You wouldn't expect to get the job if you said 'I think this job is essentially pointless for half a decade and I have no idea what I'd do with my time until then'. Even if your plans for five years later were awesome.

Yet put us in the position of the interviewer and apparently we forget to even ask. Given the power and responsibility of electing a new leadership team for our party, 'where do you see yourself in five years time' is as far as we've got. And there are probably some awesome ideas in there. No doubt at least one of the candidates has a plan for the 2020 election that you agree with. Some of the policies we're going to pass after that stunning election victory will sound great to you.

But in the meantime?

We seem to have accepted the myth that the meantime doesn't matter. The candidates preface their 2020 election strategy with the observation that 'we can't do anything until we're in government' and we all nod along as if no one in the whole Labour Party ever did A Level politics.

Was no one ever faced with the question 'For two marks, describe the role of The Opposition'? Or did everyone just write 'none what-so-ever' and hope they made the marks up elsewhere?

See, I had a crush on my A Level politics teacher, so I was actually paying attention. We spent a couple of weeks on The Role of The Opposition, with examples of good and bad Opposition parties throughout history. It was accepted, then, that a party had a job to do before they got elected, a job with massive ramifications for the health of the political systems and the wellbeing of the nation. It was accepted that time, effort, thought and vision made a difference prior to the start of the next short campaign.

I don't think I can wait five years for the labour party to start doing something. I don't think anyone in this country can. We deserve an effective opposition, effective as of now. It's not just that we could affect change from opposition, or that we could bring issues to the public attention - we have to. That's our job until 2020, whether we like it or not.

This is why I'm supporting Stella Creasy. So far, she seems to be the only candidate in either race to acknowledge that we're not on extended gardeners leave. Okay, half a point for Tom Watson. Tom Watson can say he's drawn attention to a lot of things. I like Tom Watson, it's not a bad thing that we know more about the abuses of tabloid journalists or the child abuse scandal in parliament. But Leveson hasn't exactly changed the journalistic landscape and not a single arrest has been made...maybe people think that's as much as we should do. Maybe people think that's as much as we can do. But there is one person claiming that we can effect real change from opposition and I happen to agree with her.

If I'd moaned about Wonga to anyone else, I would have apparently been told 'We'll mention that in 5 years'. Tom Watson might have gone one further - and 'mentioned' it now. But I moaned to Stella Creasy and as a result the FCA has been created, the law has been changed, the advertising has been regulated and the cost of credit has been capped. This is the stuff Stella is getting on with while everyone else cries nonsense about 'not being any use out of government'

Even if you aren't a party member, the lack of an official opposition should worry you. If you would oppose a benevolent dictatorship headed by Cameron, Osborne and Boris Johnson, now is the time to act.

Whether that's a vote for Stella Creasy, or simply asking one of the other candidates 'and in the meantime....?', we have to start thinking about the job in hand right now. Or else all those plans for the future might end up wasted too...