James GRAY   Conservative MP for North Wiltshire

You might think that we Conservatives would be having a quiet laugh at the terrible misfortunes of Labour. It now looks as if Mr Corbyn will indeed be their Leader until the next General Election in 2020; that the whole Party is firmly under the control of the hard Left; that the vast bulk of the very decent and moderate Labour MPs, many of whom are good friends of mine, will either be de-selected or will just leave in disgust; and that as a result the long and distinguished history of the Labour Party is all but over. All of that is almost certainly true.

Add to that the sad rump of the Lib Dems (8 MPs, who will be reduced to 4 if the boundary changes go through), the SNP who are very probably past the zenith of their power, and whose charismatic leader is now less popular than Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, and the handful of Welsh nationalists, Ulstermen, the green MP and a few others and it barely adds up to any kind of a coherent opposition. If there were a General Election tomorrow (and I strongly believe there will not be both because of the need for stability during the Brexit negotiations, and because of the Five Year Fixed Term Parliament Act which would anyhow make a snap election technically very difficult to call); but if there were to be such an election, we Conservatives would doubtless be returned with an overwhelming majority. We would thereafter be in Government for a generation, which truly tribal Tories might well think a good thing.

I fear that I do not. One Party hegemony is bad for democracy, and bad for the Party in power. No human being, no political party has an absolute monopoly on wisdom or correctness. We all get things wrong, and need advice, criticism and opposition to temper what we do and say. British democracy depends on Her Majesty’s strong and loyal Opposition to point out the failings in what Her Majesty’s Government are doing. Unfettered Government is bad government.

Second, in the absence of Labour, criticism will come from three less satisfactory places. The Conservative Parliamentary majority of only 12 positively encourages rebellions of all sorts by backbenchers. If there is no other opposition we will have to provide it ourselves. It will come from the House of Lords, where the Conservatives don’t have a majority, and can be easily outvoted by various combinations of Labour, Lib-Dems and cross-benchers, despite longstanding conventions that that should not normally happen.

And third, opposition will come from the media, who will very often have their own agenda.

So I for one do not rejoice in the catastrophic collapse of Labour and the Lib Dems. Good democracy, and decent government demands stern criticism from without. The re-election of Jeremy Corbyn makes that inherently very unlikely.