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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > March 2017 > Labour pains

Labour pains

By-election jitters reflect a more profound loss of the party’s historic plot

Dear Labour,

Politics is about telling stories to voters which explain their everyday experiences. I’d like to talk to you about what your current story says—and what it doesn’t.

Your malaise is warping the latest chapter in the long story of British politics. The green benches of the Commons run parallel, facing each other down both sides of the chamber, because MPs originally met in a chapel with that layout. In architecture, form is supposed to follow function; but the form of parliament has shaped its functioning for centuries. Our system is binary. There is no space for a multiplicity of alternatives, just one opposition—to be precise, Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition. The constitutional duty is not merely to oppose, but to Oppose. This you are not doing.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s March issue: Sam Tanenhaus, George Magnus and Dahlia Lithwick examine the state of America after Donald Trump’s first couple of weeks. Tanenhaus looks at the situation faced by the American press, Magnus looks at the state of global trade and Lithwick inspects the diminishing right to choice women face over abortion. Anne Perkins explores the rise of Theresa May through the political ranks and David Edmonds looks at how empathy affects our decision making. Also in this issue: Jay Elwes on Trump’s relationship with America’s intelligence agencies, Anita Charlesworth on the state of the NHS and Nick Cohen on what is done in the name of “the people” by politicians
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