The play has been extensively rehearsed. Not everything has been well executed. Observors have remarked that there has been too much playing to the gallery. Not all has been word perfect. But at 4pm on Saturday next all this comes to an end and all (if not all, many) eyes will turn to centre stage. Enter stage left our leader and prophet. And what will he say? We should know but we don’t.
The actor has the briefest of moments to catch our attention. We know the play but as lovers of this form of entertainment we remain open to its eternal attraction. We long for a new interpretation, a new vision. Even at this moment we are distracted by other visions. I knew this player’s father. I get an image of a semi circular group of us lapping up something called historic inevitability. Karl Marx had a neat turn of phrase. I remember, ‘Man is responsible for his own destiny but not the circumstances in which he must find it.’ Or something like that. Our principal actor is now responsible for his fate and the blessed Gordon of beloved memory is no more.
And he says…Well, of course, I do not know what he will say. What he must demonstrate in a very few words is that he is a pathfinder. He must have a vision of an alternative Britain to the one the Coalition offers the voters. A vision true to the past, which takes account of the reasons which enabled the Coalition parties to grab power and to the necessary changes that are occuring in British society and he must give us – the voters- hope for a better future.
I can offer no advice. It is too late for that. What I do know is that while this leading player must oppose, for it is the first duty of a Parliamentary Opposition to do so, he must also propose. What is the Big Idea? In an edeavour to distinguish themselves with the Labour Party electorate, the leading actors gave us parodies of their Big Concepts. One of these Milliband’s gave us the concept of Back to the Future, we had the Party of the Working Class and the Man of the North while Diane Abbott was content with The Past We Never Had. None of these will do for the real electorate.
Here is a warning. Fail this test and the game is up. Prepare well for it because if feet begin to shuffle this play is over and something more traditional takes its place. Of course, a good beginning is not everything. But the experienced actor senses the moment, an almost audible sigh of contentment grips the viewers, it is content, expectant and a magic has been woven linking audience with actor. Now is the hour of… Well go on finish it!