August 5: Corbyn drags Labour left

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THE momentum behind Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign to be the next Labour leader poses real risks for the future of his party as an electoral force and an effective Opposition.

His visit to Yorkshire yesterday underlined Mr Corbyn’s penchant for making unrealistic anti-austerity promises and citing figures which even those within Labour, most recently the Shadow Chancellor, Keighley-born Chris Leslie, condemn as not adding up.

But like other strident anti-austerity voices across Europe, notably Syriza in Greece, Mr Corbyn is being listened to with rapt attention by substantial numbers of Labour members.

In common, though, with Syriza his pledges are not deliverable. Nor does his criticism of the Northern Powerhouse concept, embraced by business and political leaders alike in Yorkshire, in favour of vague talk of re-industrialisation have anything realistic to offer.

Should Mr Corbyn win, and Labour lurch to the left, there is the real possibility that the party will find itself unelectable. Only in May, the electorate decisively rejected a manifesto far more moderate and centrist than anything Mr Corbyn preaches.

With Mr Corbyn as leader, Labour is likely to be riven by in-fighting as bitter as anything seen during the party’s political wilderness years in the 1980s.

That would be a source of despair to the many mainstream Labour voters in Yorkshire, who want their party to espouse moderate left-of-centre policies that address their lives, not spout doctrinaire dogma.

Nor would it be good for democracy. Our Parliamentary system depends on an effective Opposition sensibly holding the Government to account.

A Labour Party waging an internal war between left and centre would not be able to fulfil that role.

Yorkshire MP Yvette Cooper’s bid for the Labour leadership received a boost yesterday with the endorsement of party grandee Alan Johnson. Such moderate voices need to make themselves heard.

Fighting cancer

Tackling north-south divide

NO OTHER aspect of the north-south divide results in such grief and heartache as that concerning the incidence of cancer.

Yorkshire occupies the unenviable position of being the third-worst area in the country for cancer, behind the north-east and north-west, due to a combination of factors including unhealthy lifestyles and the legacy of the industrial past.

Yet as with the economic inequalities of the north-south divide, there is no good reason why national funding for cancer research should be concentrated as heavily as it is in the south-east when the north has the greater problem.

It is simply unfair that a situation should have arisen where, to put it at its starkest, patients in the north are dying whilst those in the south have a better chance of survival.

That made yesterday’s announcement by Yorkshire Cancer Research of a £5m investment to tackle this inequality especially welcome.

Its partnership with the University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust holds out the hope of pinning down why Yorkshire has such a problem as well as developing new strategies to tackle it and improve the lives of patients.

These are difficult times for the NHS, and the support of a major charitable donation of this nature can bring benefits which in the long term prove to be worth many times the original sum invested.

Above all, though, such a donation holds out the hope of saving lives and that is priceless.

Winning recipe

Bake Off’s sweet success

REALITY television has earned itself a bad name thanks to its tendency to hold people up to ridicule or indulge their most boorish behaviour.

Yet the most successful such show of them all returns this evening, with a formula in which bad behaviour, swearing and tantrums happily play no part whatsoever, and millions love it for that.

The Great British Bake Off instead makes a virtue of skill and creativity, and as two former contestants from Yorkshire, Edd Kimber and Nancy Birtwhistle, point out, can lead to fulfilling new careers for those who take part.

Certainly, the show can become tense, but its speciality is creative tension as the bakers strive for excellence.

That is a winning recipe for viewers, who find that a line-up of talented bakers making cakes and praising the efforts of fellow competitors is far more to their taste than watching people at each other’s throats.