Greg Wright: Why a divided opposition is bad news for business

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IN times of doubt, people love an ideologue who is full of blazing certainties.

Jeremy Corbyn romped home to secure the Labour leadership ahead of an insipid field.

Corbyn’s rivals failed to fire the imagination, at a time when anger was growing about a Government austerity programme that many believe is hurting the most vulnerable in society.

Tired of hedging, fudging and spin-doctored equivocation, the Labour Party has elected a man who belongs to a distant, tub-thumping puritanical era, where the real debates took place on street corners.

It’s a throwback to the Labour Party of George Lansbury or perhaps Michael Foot.

Unfortunately – if you’re a Labour supporter – Corbyn will almost certainly suffer the same fate as Lansbury and Foot. He will be remembered as a fearless activist who never had a chance of uniting the party, or appealing to the country as a PM in waiting.

We’re already witnessing a terrible rift in the Labour Party, which is also terrible news for our economy, because the Government’s record in many areas deserves to take a kicking.

Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet looks like the dissenting faction of the Second XI.

It’s a bit like the rebels at school being ordered to emerge from behind the bike sheds, stub out their cigarettes, and lead prayers at assembly.

You’ve got to admire their idealism and constancy, but it’s hard to see them as a future Government, particularly when rising Labour stars such as Dan Jarvis and Rachel Reeves are sitting on the backbenches.

It’s hard to recall now, but there was once a grassroots campaign to persuade Jarvis to stand as leader.

In the long term, Jarvis may be the only Labour MP who has the charisma and broad appeal to scare the Tories.

Corbyn will face months of upheaval as he tries to build the radical alternative to the Tories which his supporters are demanding, while not terrifying the electorate and the right wing of his own party. There’s a real danger that we could be heading back to 1981, when a high profile faction of senior right wing Labour MPs jumped ship to form a new party.

An ineffectual opposition is bad news for democracy, and it also means that the Government’s real commitment to creating an enterprise culture will not be subjected to critical scrutiny.

There are so many areas in which the Government has failed the business community.

Small and medium-sized enterprises – or SMEs – are the life blood of our economy, but they are still being throttled by red tape.

Thousands of small firms were mis-sold complex hedging products by the big banks. Lives have been ruined. Companies have been destroyed.

Many victims feel they have been let down by a weak regulatory system, which has failed to punish those responsible.

And who has ultimate responsibility for this regulatory system?

This Government, which claims to be the friend of small business.

The media’s obsession with rifts within the Labour Party must not deflect our attention from the plight of these small firms.

If you’re seeking companies that can prosper in good times and bad, you really ought to head to Yorkshire.

Today we are delighted to reveal our shortlist for The Yorkshire Post’s Excellence in Business Awards.

Around 160 companies and individuals entered this year’s awards, and the list includes firms of all shapes and sizes.

After a rigorous – and impassioned – judging process we believe we are honouring our region’s finest enterprises.

And our keynote speaker, John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, will certainly serve up plenty of food for thought.