by Atul Hatwal
Today is a day for presents. And at Uncut we are keen to join in the joy of giving. So we bring the gift of opinion.
It’s a gift that will keep giving, over the Christmas holiday at least. Each day for the next twelve days, twelve rules that determine how to be an effective opposition will be set out. The rules are drawn from a review of the experience of the seven successful oppositions since the second world war, with an emphasis on the most recent.
This isn’t Labour specific, as the rules are eternal and apply to whoever is unfortunate enough to sit on the wrong side of the House.
Neither is it remotely concerned with the substance of politics, the big changes that will make a difference to the lives of people in the country. For the current opposition, there is a paintbox of pamphlets – red, purple and black – waiting to be read for that and a massive policy review process under way.
Instead, the focus here is the low politics, the process, which most politicians profess to disdain but still somehow provides the content for 99% of political discussion.
The rules are divided into four categories that map the essentials for a short-lived life in opposition – first, adjusting to the limits of opposition, second, building an alternative prime minister, third, hitting the government where it hurts and fourth, how to make it all happen.
There could be more individual rules, or fewer, but whichever way the format is cut, the same basic truths of opposition will always emerge.
Adjusting to the limits of opposition
The transition from government to opposition is traumatic. It’s more than demotion, it’s diminution. Where once you mattered and made decisions that had consequences, opposition is life on the other side of a mirror. Visible but immaterial.
The first three of the twelve rules of opposition help the party deal with the immediate consequences of defeat.