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Shropshire Star comment: Labour Party has some serious work to do

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

The once proud Labour Party has some serious work to do if it is to become an electoral force once again.

But while the period in the immediate aftermath of the election saw a whole load of finger-pointing and recriminations, the time has now come for everyone concerned with the party to focus their attentions on what needs to be a swift recovery.

Over the last 12 months Tom Watson has taken his fair share of stick over Labour’s downfall, chiefly from the pro-Corbyn crowd, which appears to hold him responsible for everything that has gone wrong for the party.

His well-documented disagreements with Mr Corbyn, particularly over Brexit and the party’s approach to anti-Semitism, have made him an easy target for those who can see no wrong in the outgoing party leader.

Yet unlike many of his old parliamentary colleagues, Mr Watson has refused to hold Mr Corbyn solely responsible for his party’s failure at the ballot box in December.

He has called for party members and MPs who have backed Mr Corbyn to take a long, hard look at themselves before pointing the finger of blame.

And he has a point.

Undoubtedly, Mr Corbyn must take his share of the responsibility for a truly dreadful campaign.

When history looks back on his tenure, there will doubtless be some that say he lacked many of the basic requirements for a top level politician, particularly the ability to compromise.

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But his leadership was by no means the only problem, and the Labour leader was certainly enabled by the legions of supporters both inside and outside of the Commons who repeatedly insisted that all was rosy in the garden.

Labour’s membership now has a big decision to make.

As Mr Watson says, they must choose whether they want a leader who is willing to make the changes necessary to turn the party into an electoral force, or one who is content to continue down the current path.

The latter option is likely to result in an extension of Labour’s time in the political wilderness.

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It was perhaps inevitable that plans for a huge quarrying operation in Shipley would eventually be given the green light.

The 110-acre site has now won the backing of a High Court judge, despite concerns being raised over pollution, congestion and the destruction of the green belt.

In the 14 years after it opens, the site is expected to produce around 3.5 million tons of sand and gravel, with 250,000 tons of material to leave by lorry over the course of each year.

All of this is deeply concerning, not just to residents, but to anyone who has to drive through the area.

Our thoughts now must turn to minimising the potential negative impact of the site.

Everything possible must be done to ensure that residents are not adversely affected by this largely unwanted development.

And while the project is far from ideal, there is light at the end of the tunnel in that once quarrying ceases, the land is to be returned to its current use of agriculture.

For people who live in the area – and for those who travel through it – that day cannot come soon enough.

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