James Forsyth

What has happened to Labour’s political instincts?

What has happened to Labour's political instincts?
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Reading the Telegraph story about the tensions between General Dannatt and the Labour party which Pete flagged up earlier, my first thought was has the Labour party lost all of its political survival instincts?

James Kirkup quotes a Labour Minister as saying, “Once he’s gone, we can have a go at him. He can write his book and talk all he wants, but he’ll be fair game then.” Let’s leave aside the rights and wrongs of the argument for a second, and just think about this from a purely political and presentational point of view. Do Labour Ministers really think it is a good idea for an unpopular government to pick a fight with a retired general? Given how low the standing of politicians is following the expenses scandal and how respected the military is, there is only going to be one winner in such a fight.

PS It is worth pointing out that while Dannatt is right about the need for more troops on the ground in Afghanistan and more helicopters to move them around, he was very wrong about Basra and the best way to handle that situation. This, obviously, doesn’t excuse Labour’s failure to fund the military properly; its decision to make it fight wars on peacetime budgets.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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