Michael Dugher MP

Working hard for Barnsley East

Blog

Jeremy Corbyn was elected as our leader last weekend. I nominated Owen Smith, as did Barnsley East CLP, but I fully accept the outcome of the result and I respect the right of our members to choose Jeremy to lead us at this time. Jeremy won a clear majority of our members, affiliated supporters and registered supporters and I congratulate him for that.

But the challenge we face is that, if we’re being honest, our party is more divided today that at any point certainly in all my 25 years of party membership. Analysing the results from last weekend, it is clear that whereas newer members of our party voted overwhelmingly for Jeremy, the majority of our long-standing members voted for a change of leadership. The majority of young members voted for change, but Jeremy won the majority support of all other age groups. Different parts of the country voted differently too: for instance, Owen Smith won the majority of members in Scotland, but Jeremy had a big lead in most of England and Wales, though members in London were more evenly split. Many of our great trade unions nominated Jeremy, like Unite and Unison; others, like the GMB or Usdaw or Community, supported Owen. And after a summer where it was clear that the leadership had lost the confidence of the vast majority of MPs and shadow ministers, we now have to find ways to come together, work together and be a proper functioning opposition for the good of the country.

I am sure that whichever way party members voted in the leadership election, we all want to see a party that is capable of beating the Tories and making the country a stronger, better, fairer, more decent and more equal place. We know we have a lot of work to do to get more in touch with the public and be more trusted on important issues like immigration, the economy or defence. But it is absolutely essential now that we try and build some unity across the party. And the best way to do that is to focus our efforts on the Tories.

That is why I will continue my campaigning locally and in Westminster on issues ranging from the threat to our NHS, cuts to local public services, child poverty, the need for more jobs and better opportunities for our young people, my opposition to fracking and my repeated calls for an inquiry into Orgreave. Already this year, I secured a u-turn from the Government by forcing Ministers to pause and hopefully re-think their planned cuts to community pharmacies.

As a constituency MP, the number of people who come to me for help goes up and up every year. So far, in this year alone, I have dealt with more than 1,700 new cases of people coming to me, often in the most desperate of circumstances, for help with anything from benefits to housing. That work, along with the help I am able to provide to a whole range of local organisations and good causes, goes on.

We know we face challenges as a party as we move forward. But for all of our differences in recent months, to quote my friend, the late Jo Cox MP: “We have far more in common than that which divides us”. Jeremy himself said this week in his Conference speech that we have “a mountain to climb”. But I believe we must all now try and climb it together.

I accept the result and respect the members’ decision – now we must find ways to bring the party together and unite against the Tories

Jeremy Corbyn was elected as our leader last weekend. I nominated Owen Smith, as did Barnsley East CLP, but I fully accept the outcome of the result and I respect...

The following piece appeared in the Daily Mirror on 19 September 2016.

 

With a new Prime Minister this summer, it looked like we might finally get the public inquiry into Orgreave.

The new Home Secretary Amber Rudd met campaigners this month and positive signals from the Government finally gave the victims and their families hope of justice after more than thirty years.

Yet it now looks like Ministers have betrayed them after Government insiders signalled this weekend that there would be no proper inquiry.

And, to add insult to injury, these cowardly Tories seemed to have sneaked out at the news when Parliament is not sitting – to avoid proper scrutiny.

We’re told that an inquiry would take too long and be too costly.

But you can’t put a price on justice and there’s no ‘best before’ date when it comes to righting a wrong.

At the time of the Miners’ Strike, I was a young lad living by the Yorkshire Main Colliery in South Yorkshire.

I had family and friends on strike.

Our next door neighbour was at Orgreave.

Today I know the deep sense of injustice that is still felt over what happened at Orgreave.

It is not enough for Ministers to try and palm us off by releasing a few more documents.

Until we get to the truth with a proper, Hillsborough-style inquiry, what happened at Orgreave will leave a stain on British justice and policing forever.

This is an opportunity to finally do the right thing after all these years.

Instead, we may have a new PM and a new Home Secretary, but it looks like we’re getting the same old excuses.

Only a full inquiry into Orgreave will deliver justice

The following piece appeared in the Daily Mirror on 19 September 2016.   With a new Prime Minister this summer, it looked like we might finally get the public inquiry into Orgreave....

The following column appeared in the Barnsley Chronicle on 16 September 2016:

 

Hospitals are facing staff cuts, charges for patients and the “draconian rationing” of treatment unless there is an urgent injection of funds.

That warning came last week not from the unions or politicians like me, but from the head of NHS Providers, the group representing those that actually run the hospitals.

Despite the brilliant efforts of our superb NHS staff, we are now witnessing the NHS buckling under pressure.

This Government is guilty of the gross mismanagement of our NHS – and it’s communities like ours that will pay the price.

After 2010, Ministers wasted £3 billion on a top-down reorganisation that nobody voted for and one that cost £18 million in Barnsley.

The latest big worry, as Chronicle readers will know, is that Barnsley Hospital’s children’s surgery services are now under threat – meaning children and parents could have to travel to hospitals miles away for some treatments.

This is partly because the number of children’s doctors coming through medical schools is set to fall by 45 per cent between 2012 and 2017 – a big drop in frontline staff.

Shockingly, the UK is now ranked bottom out of 25 industrialised countries for children’s wellbeing.

Standards are dropping elsewhere too, with Barnsley Hospital’s A&E unit seeing 91.4 per cent of patients within four hours this July – missing the Government’s own target of 95 per cent.  What we used to call the ‘winter crisis’ in our A&E units seems to have become an all year-round crisis.

Other important targets are also being missed. The percentage of patients seen by a specialist at Barnsley Hospital within two weeks of a cancer diagnosis – a key Government target and a legal right for patients – stands at 94 per cent, down from 98.5 per cent barely a year ago.

Across the NHS in England, 80 per cent of acute hospitals are now in financial deficit, compared with just five per cent three years ago.

The warning signs are there for our NHS. It’s time the Government urgently got a grip and delivered a long-term joined-up plan to rescue our NHS.

Massive concern for children’s services at hospital

The following column appeared in the Barnsley Chronicle on 16 September 2016:   Hospitals are facing staff cuts, charges for patients and the “draconian rationing” of treatment unless there is...

The following column appeared in the Barnsley Chronicle on 2 September 2016:

As many of you might have read recently in the Chronicle, the fracking firm INEOS, which has a licence to look at fracking in Barnsley, is expected to lodge up to 30 applications to drill test wells across the North of England in the next six months.

This news served as another stern reminder that fracking is a real threat in Barnsley and that the Government’s is determined to give fracking the go-ahead across the country.

My opposition to fracking is clear. I believe fracking should not be allowed in my constituency in Barnsley East, or in any other part of the country, whilst there is so much uncertainty about its effects.  The Government and the fracking firms have simply not done enough to address people’s legitimate concerns about it.

These concerns include the suggestion that fracking can also cause methane leaks and can lead to water contamination.  And even that fracking has been linked to earth tremors and explosions.

In addition to these potential environmental effects, there are worries that fracking could damage the local property market. An internal report published last year by Defra showed fracking could cost home owners up to seven per cent off their house price.

This is why I wrote to the Secretary of State for Energy last year to call for an immediate halt to fracking. I also spoke to Barnsley Council about my concerns.  And a few months ago I had meetings with INEOS and Cuadrilla, companies that both have fracking licences for Barnsley East and other parts of the Borough.

I made it clear that the residents and our local communities needed to be listened to.

Of course Barnsley Council must ensure they comply with Government planning rules and guidelines.  I respect that.

But as far as I’m concerned, on behalf of my constituents I will keep making my position clear: fracking should not be given the go-ahead in Barnsley.

‘Fracking companies not welcome in Barnsley’

The following column appeared in the Barnsley Chronicle on 2 September 2016: As many of you might have read recently in the Chronicle, the fracking firm INEOS, which has a licence...

The following article appeared in the Yorkshire Post on 30 August 2016:

When I was on holiday recently, I did a lot of cycling with my kids. At one point when I overtook my 10-year-old daughter, feeling very pleased with myself and to the understandable embarrassment of my children, I ludicrously claimed: “That was like Jason Kenny in the Olympics!”

But, joking apart, it strikes me that all over the country this summer, people – especially our youngsters – will have been inspired by Britain’s Olympic success in Rio. Who would have thought we could have topped our achievements from four years ago in London?

Team GB finished second in the final medals table – ahead of China for the first time – and it would be uncharacteristically modest if we didn’t also acknowledge our contribution here in Yorkshire. Competitors from God’s Own County won 14 medals including five golds. Athletes like Ed Clancy, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Jack Laugher and Nicola Adams not only did us proud, but they have the power to inspire the next generation of Olympic heroes. And just as importantly their achievements can encourage more people to get active and involved in sport.

Yet despite the brilliant results of our top athletes at the London Olympics four years ago, the depressing reality is that participation in sport here in Britain has actually fallen in recent years. The Government’s own figures show a significant drop in sport participation across the board. Fewer primary and secondary school children are taking part in sports than there were in 2010, both in and out of school. Among five to 15-year-olds, less than one in five (19.2 per cent) play competitive sport outside school.

Participation has risen in just three of the 26 Olympic sports since the 2012 London Olympics, and has dropped in 15 others. Last year, 800,000 fewer people took part in swimming than did in the year of the London Games – the steepest fall in any of the Olympic sports.

Over 750,000 more adults were completely inactive last year than there were in 2012/13. Among the poorest social group, 365,100 fewer people participated in sport – a fall of almost three per cent.  In Yorkshire and the Humber alone, the number of people taking part in sports and exercise at least once a week has fallen by 67,100 since the 2012 Olympics.

Many of these damning statistics are the result of short-sighted Government decisions, including scrapping Labour’s target of ensuring at least two hours of participation in sports for every child each week. The Government also cut £162m in annual funding for the School Sports Partnerships, a successful programme set up under Labour which linked specialist sports colleges with primary, special and secondary schools in the area.

Since the London Games, there have been significant cuts to grassroots sports. Continued massive cuts to local authorities make it near impossible for many of them to create and maintain the infrastructure needed.

Research has shown that people who participate in sport have a 30 per cent lower risk of developing dementia. Sport can also be a factor in reducing youth crime and reoffending. On top of this, participation in sport can help improve social cohesion and increase educational attainment.

The previous Labour government recognised the vital health and social benefits of a proper sport strategy and made enormous progress. In 2002 estimates indicated only 25 per cent of school children took part in at least two hours of PE and sport a week. By 2010, after years of effective Labour policy on sports, over 90 per cent of school children were doing two or more hours of sport – and 55 per cent was doing three hours a week or more.

Despite the positive legacy left by Labour, it took the Conservatives over five years to come up with an actual sports strategy – finally publishing one in December last year. As the Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport at the time, I welcomed this. I thought it was good news that they had ‘borrowed’ many of the ideas we had been putting forward in Parliament.

This Government should learn from their mistakes. In 2012, they had a unique opportunity to capitalise on the success of the London Olympics to inspire people across generations. It proved to be an opportunity squandered.

With the tremendous success of Great Britain’s sporting heroes at the Rio Olympics, this Government now has a chance to do better. It remains to be seen if they will act to turn around the decline in sports participation.

 

Michael Dugher is Labour MP for Barnsley East and a former member of the shadow cabinet.

 

We need a sports policy fit for purpose

The following article appeared in the Yorkshire Post on 30 August 2016: When I was on holiday recently, I did a lot of cycling with my kids. At one point...

The following column appeared in the Barnsley Chronicle on 19 August 2016:

As a patron of the Barnsley Independent Alzheimer’s and Dementia Support (BIADS) charity, I know how mentally and physically debilitating dementia is.

Going to the shops, visiting hospital or the GP can all be stressful for dementia patients and for family and the carers who often have to drive them there.

And we know that dementia is a growing problem in society, with the number of people with dementia set to rise from 850,000 this year to over two million by 2051.

Across Yorkshire and Humber alone, there are now over 60,000 people living with dementia. In my own constituency of Barnsley East, the figure is around 800.

So I was shocked to learn that having a form of advanced dementia is not listed in the eligibility criteria for the Blue Badge parking scheme.

 

The scheme helps less mobile people park cars closer to their destinations, in special parking bays, to make trips out easier.

But people with dementia cannot qualify for a Blue Badge on the grounds that they have dementia alone. The symptoms, like cognitive impairment and confusion, are not always covered in the eligibility criteria in the same way that physical disabilities are.

 

And different local authorities have different rules, which leads to a postcode lottery for dementia patients.

This can mean a lengthy, complex and confusing application process which can end in failure simply because of where you live.

That’s why I’m calling on the Government to change the rules so that the Blue Badge scheme is fully opened up to dementia patients – something that’s supported by BIADS and the Alzheimer’s Society.

This small change to the rules could make a massive difference to people with dementia by streamlining the application process and meaning if you have dementia, you are able to apply for a Blue Badge no matter where you live.

It’s really important that we act to support people living with dementia. Opening up access to the Blue Badge scheme is a simple and practical way we can help.

Bid to open up scheme to dementia sufferers

The following column appeared in the Barnsley Chronicle on 19 August 2016: As a patron of the Barnsley Independent Alzheimer’s and Dementia Support (BIADS) charity, I know how mentally and...

The following article appeared in the Yorkshire Post on 12 August 2016:

The South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) has just closed a public consultation about changes they are proposing to local bus services.

Suffice to say, their plans include yet more cuts. Although I ensured that as many local residents as possible made their views known, once again there seems little we can actually do about it.

The prospect of yet more cuts to bus services has left people who rely on them understandably worried and angry. Local buses are a lifeline for thousands across the county who rely on them to get to work or college, go shopping, or visit friends and family.

But these latest changes, set to be introduced by SYPTE in January next year, mean that in my Barnsley East constituency the 8 and 8a service through Worsbrough would be scrapped, with just a partial replacement. The 37 bus through Cudworth, Shafton and Grimethorpe will be cancelled on Saturdays. In other parts of the borough, the 23a,24, 25 and 300 bus services serving Penistone could alsoface the axe.

These cuts come on topof the recent collapse of Tates Travel bus company which abruptly folded in February, leaving many passengers in Barnsley and Rotherham in the lurch.

And according to the Campaign for Better Transport, there was a cut of almost 10 per cent in the amount South Yorkshire spent on supported bus services in the year to April 2016. Across Yorkshire and the Humber, the amount spent on supporting local bus services had dropped from £46.9m in 2010/11 to £32.6m in 2015/16 – a drop of 30 per cent.

Nationally, more than 2,400 services have been withdrawn or reduced under this Government, while bus fares have shot up 61 per cent on average in the past decade. Unsurprisingly, passenger numbers have slumped as Government support to subsidise bus services in England and Wales fell in real terms by 17 per cent over the last three years.

All this makes it harder for people to get to work or find employment. It makes it more difficult for people to stay in touch with friends and family, increasing the sense of loneliness and isolation some people feel, particularly elderly people or those living in more rural areas. And it hits local businesses too as trade suffers.

But the latest cuts in bus services in Yorkshire does highlight once again the real need for changes.

Last year, when I was Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, I led a “Passenger Power” campaign to give people a far greater influence on the services they use and help to fund. At the moment, bodies like SYPTE can run public consultations.

But, despite all the public money that goes into funding our bus services, the bus market remains “deregulated”. There is nothing that compels them or the private bus companies to respond to the wishes of the public.

The Competition Commission has estimated that failures in the bus market are costing taxpayers up to £305m every year. That’s why I argued that we needed to give combined local authorities the powers to set routes andfares to deliver better bus services.

A model for this exists. In London, the bus market is “regulated” in this way. In London, bus passengers pay £1.50 per trip and there is a daily cap of £4.50 for a limitless number of bus journeys. Payment is on an Oyster card or a contactless payment card, like a debit or credit card, to help cuts queues and help speed up journeys.

I’m not against bus companies turning a profit. But at the moment the incentive is for them to run services on the profitable routes, like the buses packed with shoppers heading to places like Meadowhall, but to run down the bus routes that make little or no money – like vital buses picking up old folk from sheltered accommodation or trips to the local hospital.

I’ve argued that we should be “cross-subsidising” whereby the profitable routes help keep alive the other routes that are essential in terms of providing a much-needed public service.

But it’s not just about keeping fares reasonable or protecting important local bus routes. It’s about having a transport system as a whole that is properly joined up. For instance, there should be more powers to ensure bus and rail timetables are integrated.

Thankfully, the Government has finally responded to some extent to the campaign for more passenger power. If the new Sheffield City Region gets underway, the directly-elected mayor will have the power to award bus franchises and help facilitate smart ticketing.

But the question is: do these new powers go far enough? The test will be whether or not these new powers actually deliver the changes bus users need. Andthat means reversing the recent trend of cuts to routes and fare rises.

Michael Dugher MP is Labour MP for Barnsley East.

Passenger power over profit is the route for buses

The following article appeared in the Yorkshire Post on 12 August 2016: The South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) has just closed a public consultation about changes they are proposing...

The following column appeared in the Barnsley Chronicle published 5 August:

One of the best things I’ve done recently was to visit the beautiful Broomhill Flash, in the Dearne Valley, to open a brand new two-storey hide for the Garganey Trust.

The Trust is a local charity that was formed 18 years ago, to ensure the conservation of local wildlife and to enable people to enjoy and learn from local natural heritage.

Four years ago, the Trust came up with a proposal for a new two-storey hide to replace the original hide at Broomhill Flash. After years of hard work and fundraising, it’s now open.

The Trust’s inspiring Chairman, Jeff Lunn, described Broomhill Flash as one of a “string of pearls” along the Dearne Valley between Barnsley and Doncaster. And he’s not wrong.

The new hide is a brilliant facility which offers amazing panoramic views in a warm, spacious environment.

The Garganey Trust worked with a range of partners including GFB & Salt Architects, Greenbank, the Environment Agency, RSPB, Dearne Nature Improvement Area, Barnsley Council, Dearne Valley landscape Partnership, Natural England, private donors and friends and amazing supporters of the Trust to build this new hide.

Over the years the Garganey Trust has had some great success at the reserves it maintains. You probably didn’t know that over the past 13 years, 24 species of ducks, geese and waders have made 3,430 nesting attempts in the nature reserves the Trust manages!

The Trust has also transformed Clegg’s Meadow, to the west side of Broomhill Flash, into a hay-meadow which houses an abundance of grasses and flowers.

Work like this is crucial because wildlife is still in steep decline across the country. We have seen a 97 per cent decline in the population of species like the turtle dove nationally.

Organisations like the Garganey Trust also help children learn from a young age about the need to protect and enjoy our countryside and wildlife.

The hide is open from dawn till dusk. If you get chance this summer, pop along.

 

Trust is doing fine work for our wildlife

The following column appeared in the Barnsley Chronicle published 5 August: One of the best things I’ve done recently was to visit the beautiful Broomhill Flash, in the Dearne Valley,...

The following piece by Michael was published in the Yorkshire Post on 5 August 2016:

 

Much of the focus on Theresa May’s first reshuffle as Prime Minister was understandably on her new Cabinet. We watched as the high political drama unfolded, with the sacking of George Osborne, the promotion of Boris Johnson to Foreign Secretary (Minister for Diplomacy?) and other top-level changes.

But further down the ministerial food chain, there was another significant move. Namely we now have a new Minister at the Department of Health, with responsibility for community pharmacies. Out goes Alistair Burt. Enter David Mowat.

It’s fair to say that David Mowat, MP for Warrington South, is not exactly a household name in Yorkshire. Without being too unkind, he’s probably not a household name in his own household. The same might be said for me.

But this is a very important appointment. The Yorkshire Post’s readers might not have heard of David Mowat, but many will have heard about the Government’s plan to cut £170m from our community pharmacies. Ministers have admitted themselves that this real terms budget cut of six per cent will force up to 3,000 local chemists – a quarter of all those in the country – to be closed.

Across Yorkshire and Humber alone, there are 1,266 community pharmacies that dispense an average of 9,483 prescription items to patients each month. If our new Minister presses ahead with this damaging cut, it could mean around 300 local chemists closing in our region.

This is a very real threat to people’s access to healthcare, which is why I have campaigned against the cut with a cross party group of MPs, patients and pharmacists. In May, we delivered a petition against the plan, signed by 1.8 million people – the most signed healthcare petition in history – to 10 Downing Street.

I also led a House of Commons debate opposing the cut and pharmacists from across the country travelled to Westminster to tell their MP just how important community pharmacies are. And they are growing in importance. There are 1.2 million health-related visits to community pharmacies every day. The average person visits a pharmacy 14 times a year. Since 2005, the number of prescriptions dispensed in the community has risen by 50 per cent, with just over a billion items issued last year alone.

Community pharmacies are often a first port of call for patients with minor ailments, where they can receive free medical advice and access over-the-counter medicine.

And a strong network of community pharmacies plays a vital role relieving pressure on our already overstretched A&E departments and GP surgeries. We know A&E units are under enormous pressure on this Government’s watch and that millions of people are waiting longer for a GP appointment.

By cutting community pharmacies, our NHS could be pushed to breaking point as more patients head to A&E or try to see their GP. Polling by YouGov from April shows that one in four people who would normally visit a pharmacy for advice on common ailments would instead make an appointment with their GP if their local pharmacy faced closure.

In areas of higher deprivation, like in my Barnsley East constituency, the research shows that as many as four in five people would visit their GP if their local pharmacy closed.

So cutting community pharmacies is also a complete false economy for our NHS. It will only create more downstream costs for the NHS and more pressures on our already over-burdened services.

One of the arguments the previous Minister fell rather belatedly upon was the need to tackle so-called ‘clusters’ or groupings of chemists close together on high streets.

This may be an issue in London and other urban centres, where there are sometimes several chemists in close proximity, but for the small towns and villages, like in my own constituency, there is often just one pharmacy serving the whole community.

An arbitrary budget cut across the board won’t do anything about so-called clusters. When I have challenged the Government to tell me which community pharmacies face the axe, of course they can’t tell me. It might be one in a cluster. Or it might be potentially closing the only chemist serving an entire village.

If the Government wants to do something about clusters, they need to be much more targeted. And there should be local guarantees of protected, minimum access to community pharmacies.

The new Minister does have a chance to think again and listen afresh to concerns. The Government is still in private consultation with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee and there is still time to drop this cut before it is too late.

All new Ministers like an early win.They like to hit the ground running, grab a few good headlines and make a name for themselves. People here in Yorkshire may have not heard of David Mowat. Yet. But if he proves to be a good listener and has the courage to change the Government’s plans to cut community pharmacies, we may well be seeing a lot more of him.

Cutting local pharmacies would be a very bitter pill

The following piece by Michael was published in the Yorkshire Post on 5 August 2016:   Much of the focus on Theresa May’s first reshuffle as Prime Minister was understandably...

The following piece by Michael was published in the Mail on Sunday on 24 July 2016.

Gordon Brown’s failure to call an early General Election back in 2007, when he was riding high after a buoyant start to his premiership, was arguably the biggest political blunder in living memory. The same dilemma faces new PM Theresa May.

With a Commons majority of just 12 MPs, May’s brutal reshuffle – when she culled the ministerial allies of David Cameron and crushed the ambitions of other Tory ‘modernisers’ – has increased her fragility when it comes to potential backbench rebellions.

And despite her stealing Ed Miliband’s talk of a Britain that doesn’t just work for ‘a privileged few’, the reality is that she has assembled a Cabinet made up of Right-wing has-beens, anti-European headbangers and Norman Tebbit groupies.

However, as things stand, I’m convinced she won’t make the same mistake as Brown.

So far, May says she has ruled out going to the polls before the 2020 date set under the Fixed Term Parliament Act.

But I think she’ll be persuaded to seize the chance to go to the country sooner rather than later – maybe as early as October – if Jeremy Corbyn is still Labour leader after the September contest.

If that happens I fear we could see the Tories get a majority of a 100 seats. Indeed, Labour could be looking at decades in the political wilderness, which would be a disaster for Labour areas like mine in Barnsley.

I was Gordon Brown’s chief political spokesman before 2010 but back in 2007, I was working at No 12 Downing Street in the Government Whips’ Office.

I remember talking to my friend Tom Watson – now Labour’s deputy leader – who was convinced there would be an early Election in 2007.

Brown asked the whips to ring round Labour MPs to get their thoughts. I recall one senior Labour MP being against an autumn Election on the dubious grounds that his large majority might be trimmed.

Brown was given conflicting advice from his inner circle in September 2007 and eventually ruled out a snap poll. Looking back, it was Brown’s and Labour’s best shot and we blew it.

Some people say May is too cautious to call an Election. It’s true that she is in many ways a modern-day equivalent of Stanley Baldwin, the Tory leader in the inter-war years who, with his slogan ‘safety first’, was a hero of John Major’s. In the turbulent 1920s, the mantra stood the Tory Party in good stead.

But the riskier move would be not to call an Election. Brexit means political and economic uncertainty.

And May, like Brown, would be permanently branded both an ‘unelected’ Prime Minister and a ‘bottler’.

The clincher is that, as long as Corbyn remains Labour leader, May is like a gambler with a big pile of chips after a winning run at the casino table – and every instinct will be telling her to cash out while her luck is in.

One recent YouGov poll has support for Labour at just 29 per cent. At the same point in Ed Miliband’s leadership, the same pollster had Labour riding high on 44 per cent.

An Ipsos MORI poll this week found just 23 per cent thought Corbyn had what it takes to be PM, compared to 55 per cent who were backing May.

Other polls have shown that large numbers of people who voted Labour at the 2015 General Election would now prefer May, and say they can’t vote for a party led by Corbyn.

Of course, if Labour does make a change at the top and elect Owen Smith as our new leader, the party could unite. And that just might make Theresa May ‘do a Gordon Brown’ and put off an early Election.

Labour’s fate is in our own hands.

Labour’s fate is in our own hands: Michael’s Mail on Sunday piece

The following piece by Michael was published in the Mail on Sunday on 24 July 2016. Gordon Brown’s failure to call an early General Election back in 2007, when he...

The Labour Party will place cookies on your computer to help us make this website better.

Please read this to review the updates about which cookies we use and what information we collect on our site.

To find out more about these cookies, see our privacy notice. Use of this site confirms your acceptance of these cookies.