Politics, of course, has always been about communication but the whole of modern life is and the first question covered the incident of a child in Graham Jones' constituency who had written in his weekend news for school that he lived in a terrorist house. Graham had actually met the family subsequently to this but much of our discussion centred on the fact that whilst it was obvious the child was talking about a terraced house, his news also contained disturbing comments on the behaviour of his uncle towards him. Graham Jones was perturbed that this was not taken up with the same interest by the press.
The discussion after the Grill ran on because Graham was more than happy to stay despite having to be in parliament at 4pm and he probably only just made it. He was forthright discussing the problems of the Labour Party and the country and for part of the Grill actually spoke off the record. He was challenged by David many times over the European referendum and whether or not it was similar to the Harold Wilson referendum where the Prime Minister was using the promise of a referendum before an election to buy off his own side. In the 1970s of course Wilson was buying off the unions. He was hoping to produce a referendum wording that gave the Prime Minister of the day the answer that he wanted. Graham said he could not really comment over much on the Wilson situation because he was only eight at the time. David pushed him quite hard on this because, as a politician, he felt that he should have been fully aware of all that it involved and Graham responded by saying that although the prime focus of the question in that referendum was on becoming part of a trading group, that the question of closer political union was also included.
As with a number of the questions, this Grill was conducted differently with David bringing in the audience as it went along rather than simply taking questions and then grilling the Grillee. Certainly a formula to consider in the future, but one that is probably not possible when there are 60 or 70 people in attendance.
There was great discussion about the role of the Labour Party today with David insisting that it did not make a credible opposition which was bad for the country generally. This was not accepted and Graham Jones would not be drawn on whether the parliamentary Labour Party should be exerting its authority as it appeared that the High Command had moved away from the thoughts and philosophies of the traditional Labour Party in the country, including Graham Jones’ own parents and grandparents.
It could not be denied that Corbyn had received a massive mandate from the membership, many of them new, but the fact inside the Parliamentary party was that there was now virtually no possibility of any further reshuffle because there was nobody who had not either resigned or refused to serve, left to fill any spaces. David painted the scenario that unlike when the Gang of Four broke away from the Labour Party there was now a number of disenchanted people in all parties and as the Liberal Party is a small Parliamentary party, that perhaps there was the real prospect, for the first time in British history, of the coming together of the right of the Labour Party and the left of the Conservative Party with the Liberals to create a party hovering either side of the centre. This could result in a perpetual one-party government which would not be good for the nation. Graham thought this most unlikely but would not be drawn on how much longer Jeremy Corbyn could last but said people would know when the crossover point was reached and act accordingly. However hard he was pushed, he would not define what could trigger that crossover point.
A thought provoking start to the year, but was it really more of the same, no direct answers?