I enjoyed reading Amber Elliott’s interview with Caroline Flint (TP, June), although I must confess that I now know more about Caroline’s views on Swedish crime drama than I do about Labour’s energy policy. “Bills not bears” is a neat slogan but it dodges the question of why Labour wants to add £60 to hard-pressed householders’ power bills with a massive solar subsidy. But Caroline has sparkle, sharpness and energy, which will be very useful in her new and important portfolio. I am sure she will push her shadow cabinet colleagues further into the shadows. And if Caroline really wants to turn her hand to political fiction, perhaps the Cain and Abel story could be given a modern Miliband makeover?
Conservative MP and member of the energy and climate change select committee
Westminster recently witnessed a huge demonstration when thousands of police officers protested against the arbitrary changes the government is bulldozing through on their working conditions. Nick Herbert’s self-delusory account (TP, June) of orderly ‘radical’ change in policing rings false in communities like mine in Greater Manchester where people fear excessive police cuts hollowing out our capacity to stop crime and bring the criminal to book. Labour will contest the police commissioner elections – they’re too important to leave unchallenged – though we recognise inherent dangers in giving so much power to one individual. Even this, their flagship policy, risks public apathy and a low turn-out helping extremists. Not radical, Nick, just rash and risky.
Tony Lloyd MP
Labour MP for Manchester Central and Labour candidate for police commissioner
Gay marriage debate
Like Nick Herbert (TP, June), I believe the Conservative Party has moved on and I am expecting a majority of colleagues to support gay marriage. However, I am concerned that those MPs against reform are not clearly setting out the reasoning behind their position. It’s not enough to say that the issue isn’t a priority, since Parliament can walk and chew gum at the same time, nor can one claim it is a Christian position given the number of Christians supporting gay marriage. The forthcoming debate will, sadly, come with inevitable accusations of homophobia from a minority so this needs to be met head on. That said I was very pleased to read that Nick emphasised that gay marriage will not be forced on churches or other religions, something I believe is a truly Conservative position. I am a strong supporter of gay marriage, but I equally strongly believe in religious freedom. Holy matrimony will remain untouched and protected.
Mike Freer MP
Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green
Driving the debate
Jim Pickard’s implication (TP, June) that Ed is playing it safe in difficult policy areas doesn’t reflect the leadership that we’ve seen in practice over the last 20 months. Whether it was his stand on Murdoch and News International or, more significantly, his 2011 conference speech on responsible capitalism, Ed has pushed debate beyond the comfort zone of more cautious politicians and demonstrated that he is really connected with the public mood. While Cameron’s gloss has begun to tarnish, Ed has shown himself to be a leader of real substance and to be right for the times we’re in. He’s also met the challenge of enabling the Labour Party to confront what we got wrong over 13 years in government, without taking away from the achievements of which we should be really proud. And that’s vital if we are to regain people’s trust.
Paul Blomfield MP
Labour MP for Sheffield Central
The sharing solution
Reading Andrew Hawkins’ article on welfare (TP, May), one comes across – from various sources – the terms “benefit junkies”, “welfare reform”, “scroungers”, “voters want benefits cut”, “welfare trap”, all highlighting the popular idea that benefits are second to waged work. Why so? Everyone needs a certain amount of money on which to live a fulfilling life, and the fact that some are more vulnerable to its lack is a set-up designed by politicians down the years. Divide and rule is practised by a society not acknowledging that political sanity would distribute money so that all have enough. None should be totally entrapped wage-slaves, none should have to work for nothing, and all should have suitable life-opportunities. The concept of sharing would make it possible.
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