When Mr Ed Miliband produced a document of blank pages called a Fresh Ideas Pamphlet for Labour supporters to suggest new policy proposals, it seemed like a good way to get views across.
Now the two Eds, Miliband and Balls, have come up with another form to fill in before shadow ministers do or say anything in public. This involves getting specific approval on the precise words they intend using, especially ones about money.
'The public has a right to expect us to adopt a responsible and thorough approach. We hope this process will support rather than hinder your work in developing a clear and ambitious agenda for a future Labour Government’, they say.
This is all well and good. There has to be a consensus of opinion in these matters so that the party are all singing from the same proverbially hymn sheet and everything is open, transparent and not misleading.Yet there is something disturbing about having all your words and actions vetted before they are put to the public. It seems to be more censorship than necessary discipline and I wonder where this will end.
Our government is renowned for bureaucracy and especially towards paperwork.
Forms have been brought in for the police, teaching, the NHS and many others, which control and restrict how these jobs are carried out. The police are kept away from the public, nurses away from patients and teachers away from vital contact with the children. One further step and we as citizens will be filling in forms about our beliefs and our morals and have vetted what we intend saying to our own families. Freedom of speech will become something from the distant past – if there ever really was free speech in this country. Maybe the census forms this year will surprise us by asking what hasn’t been asked before.
Perhaps the paperwork that Labour politicians are being asked to do will keep them busy and off the streets towards the next election. Maybe we will then have a fresh new government at both local and national levels.