Daily Express

Division can be a plus for healthy political balance


WHEN the verbally challenged word-mangler John Prescott,

below, was in government, it was joked, “What do you get if you cross Prescott with the Mafia? An offer you can’t understand.”

Today, the deep divisions within the Tory party have prompted further humorous references to the Mafia, with the quintet of splinter groups on the Tory right known as “the Five Families”. That title is a homage to the five Italian clans that controlled organised crime in New York from the 1930s, as memorably portrayed in the epic film trilogy The Godfather.

Mark Francois, the boss of the European Research Group is no Don Corleone, but convention­al wisdom holds that internal fissures within a party inevitably spell its doom. “Unite or die”, Rishi Sunak told his backbenche­rs last week as the Rwandan crisis loomed. Yet is that theory always correct?

After all, the Tories were almost torn apart by Brexit, yet won a landslide in 2019 under Boris Johnson. A victorious fight by a leader against internal foes can provide a boost.

Margaret Thatcher’s battle against the Wets in her Cabinet enhanced her stature, while Neil Kinnock’s finest hour was the start of his heroic struggle against the Militant Tendency.

John McTernan, a top aide to Tony Blair, once suggested his combustibl­e relationsh­ip with Gordon Brown was actually good for Labour in focusing attention on the party.

It is doubtful if Rishi Sunak will be taking comfort from the behaviour of his own “Five Families” this weekend.

DESPITE the failings of the public sector, the faith of the political class in bureaucrac­y remains undimmed. Tinkering is seen as the panacea for so many problems. From both the Government and opposition, there is a never-ending stream of proposals for new public bodies.

Ministers want a new independen­t football regulator, Labour a new financial watchdog. And at the Covid inquiry, the leading counsel bangs on continuall­y about committee structures. But perhaps the most absurd idea comes from Nick Fletcher, the Tory MP for Don Valley, who is calling for a “Minister for Men”. Tellingly, he uses the language of wokery to back this demand, blathering about “inclusion” and “changing the political conversati­on”.

He should man-up and abandon this new foray into victimhood.

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