OFF THE FENCE:

THE NEWS COMMENT: Tell us why our end of the M27 will not become Smart

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We have a new prime minister, a new cabinet and a revitalised sense of purpose.

The appointment of Theresa May only three weeks after the referendum has brought stability and certainty to British politics.

We know that there will be no second referendum. The prime minister has been explicit that the will of the people clearly expressed must be upheld. Brexit means Brexit.

We know the prime minister will deliver the deal with Europe, and the world, that Britain needs. She will deliver the 2015 manifesto upon which the government was elected.

But while the executive is in good shape parliament is not.

Last week during an opposition debate – time on the floor of the House of Commons to discuss any issue the opposition wishes – not one Labour MP put in to speak.

The Labour Party is split between its leadership supported by its membership and the parliamentary party. You might think that a Conservative MP should rejoice in Labour’s woes, but I do not.

In our parliamentary democracy the opposition has a key role to play – scrutiny of legislation, improving that legislation, testing policy, forwarding an alternative view, giving voice to descent.

The structures of the Commons and Lords – the revising chamber – are set up to facilitate this. But the opposition is not focused on these tasks. Individual MPs might be doing their best, but there is no co-ordinated and strong opposition and parliamentary democracy is suffering as a consequence.

Instead of an alternative policy platform being pushed from the benches opposite, opposition in the form of demonstration and rallies is out on College Green.

Worse still, MPs who have not supported their leader have been threatened. A leadership candidate had her office windows smashed. Criticism of this behaviour has been too slow.

My party has managed a swift leadership contest. I hope Labour manages one too.

Whatever the result the leadership, the parliamentary party and its membership can unite behind an agreed policy and strategy.

And I hope the vicious and intolerant behaviour we have seen will cease, and respect for those democratically elected by their constituents will prevail.

Parliament needs that, democracy needs that and the country needs that too.