Last Thursday, the day after the Parliamentary Labour party had allied itself to the Tory right-wing Euro-sceptics in order to defeat the government on the of the EU budget, I happened to run into my ((Labour) MP in our market place. I told him that I thought the Labour Party's action was deplorably opportunistic. He grinned and replied that any opportunity to kick David Cameron was not to be missed.
Well, I suppose it goes down well in the Westminster bubble and gives the media, chattering classes and we political anoraks something to get excited about. But it is just this sort of political gamesmanship played by our political leaders, (they can hardly be called statesmen,) which brings democratic politics as at present practised into disrepute.
Labour's parliamentary antics are disreputable on at least two counts. First they pretend to be an internationalist party, keen to develop co-operation for the improvement of the quality of life across national boundaries. Tony Blair claimed to want to put Britain "at the heart of Europe" but never did much positive about it. There were hopes that the party under Ed Miliband was made of sterner stuff. Clearly short term fun continues to have precedence over principled discussion.
Second, the Labour Party preaches Keynesian economic stimulation to revive employment and growth. That is precisely the purpose of the EU budget, 94% for which is returned to EU citizens, much of it in the less developed regions, and much of which is devoted to infrastructure development, research, innovation and creativity- exactly the policy Ed Balls urges the government to follow at home, but not, apparently, via the EU.
We expect the Tory party to be Tory, we know they have a strong anti-EU element, and it is no surprise that Cameron's efforts to detoxify the party barely scratch the surface.
But this parliament so far the Labour Party has failed to support electoral reform, in which it claims to believe, has failed to support the means to reform of the second chamber, to which it is committed and has now done its best to torpedo a relatively positive and constructive approach to the EU.
No wonder people are turned of politics, say that none of us is to be trusted, and the percentage turnout in elections has fallen to the low 60s.