July 23: Corbyn could destroy Labour

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IT is indicative of Labour’s febrile state that activists are split over Tony Blair’s warning that the party will become unelectable if it embraces a deeply socialist agenda. The former premier’s standing is so diminished that his intervention might boost the candidacy of the veteran left-winger Jeremy Corbyn and his Greek-like economics still further – the man who was once Labour’s future is now part of its problematical past.

However Labour will only have itself to blame if Mr Corbyn, a throwback to Michael Foot’s doomed leadership in the 1980s, prevails. Not only will it show that the party has learned nothing on the economy, but it would also be a poor reflection on the ability of those voices on the centre-right, like schools spokesman Tristram Hunt, to put forward a coherent vision of their own.

In this respect, Mr Corbyn’s barnstorming campaign can be attributed to the fact that he is a conviction politician who has not betrayed his principles while his lacklustre opponents – Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall – appear unsure of their beliefs.

Yet, while Labour’s disarray has been greeted gleefully by those Tories who remember their own travails after Mr Blair’s landslide election win in 1997, Mr Corbyn’s election would have ramifications for all. Why? Governments are at their best when they have a strong opposition to hold them to account, and there is a likelihood that the Tories will become complacent if their primary opponents in England select a leader who is unelectable.

After all, general elections are won and lost from the political centre ground. David Cameron and George Osborne know this. So, too, does Tony Blair. But will Labour recognise this before the party’s socialists and social democrat reformers are forced to go their separate ways if Mr Corbyn triumphs? Time will tell, but Labour is lurching towards a defining moment in a political history. As the widely-respected Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis observed: “There is no rule in politics that says there needs to be a healthy, functioning Labour Party.”

Pillars of policing

‘Blunkett’s bobbies’ are priceless

HOW times change. Derided for so long, it is a measure of the importance – and effectiveness – of police community support officers that they will actually be missed if funding pressures lead to the abolition of such posts in Leeds and, potentially, other cities across the region.

They’re no longer “Blunkett’s bobbies” – the unflattering term that was coined to describe PCSOs when they were introduced during David Blunkett’s tumultuous stint as Home Secretary more than a decade ago. These are pillars of policing whose work is now integral to West Yorkshire Police’s fight against crime.

Not only do they provide a reassuring presence on the streets, and enable the police to forge better links with local communities, but they also enable other officers to devote more time to confront those challenges, like historic abuse allegations or internet fraud, which are having such a dramatic impact on day-to-day policing.

Though most people would like to see even more regular patrols in their neighbourhood, and by fully fledged officers, the fact of the matter is that cyber crime has overtaken street muggings as the biggest threat to an individual’s security. Given how PCSOs enable both objectives to be met, it can only be hoped that West Yorkshire Police and the councils on its patch find a way to continue a service which has now become invaluable to so many communities.

Boycott’s backing

Be A Hero – just like Geoffrey

HE might be as irascible as ever when it comes to cricketing matters, and with good reason after England’s recent capitulation against Australia, but Geoffrey Boycott’s brave fight against cancer, and other illnesses, has revealed a softer side to this iconic Yorkshireman. It is borne out by a generosity of spirit that has been the making of this single-minded sportsman who would not allow anything – or anyone – to stand in the way of his cricket career.

This is illustrated by Mr Boycott deciding to head up the Be A Hero campaign which is seeking to persuade to become more people to become organ donors. His logic, just like his acclaimed punditry on Test Match Special, is delivered with a straight bat. As he owes his life to the brilliance of the National Health Service’s cancer doctors, and his own personal willpower, why should he not use his considerable influence so that more people can have the chance to receive the gift of a life through transplant surgery? It is a profound point.