Britain's Prime David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband attend the annual Remembrance Sunday ceremony in central London
Britain's Prime David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband attend the annual Remembrance Sunday ceremony in central London Reuters

The Labour Party today held what it called a "listening exercise" on a scale hitherto unachieved by a British political party.

The party leader, Ed Miliband, spoke with 2,000 of the good folk of Nottingham for his party's policy forum, of which only a few, we are told, were Labour Party activists.

Shortly after his election as Labour leader, Mr Miliband said that he was starting from a "blank piece of paper" as far as policies were concerned.

Although he was mocked for it by the Prime Minister, it was perhaps a wise stance to take given that his party had just lost an election (although not a badly as their enemies like to pretend they did).

Sadly though, there are few signs that that blank piece of paper will be filled with policies that will enthuse the British public, still less that they will be filled with policies that come from the British public.

For this "listening exercise" is not the first of its kind and will probably not be the last. Tony Blair for a while kept going on about a "Great Conversation" with the British people, yet it was a conversation in which he did all of the talking.

Similarly Gordon Brown, when he became Prime Minister said he had "listened and learned", yet clearly not enough because it did not save him at last year's general election.

The sad truth is that if British politicians really listened to the people they claim to represent then they would not have to keep telling us how much they are listening in the same way that drunks keep telling everyone how sober they are. We would in fact be able to tell from their actions that they were listening.

Sadly this does not seem to be happening and it is by no means confined to the Labour Party.

On a whole host of issues there are large sections of the British public, in some instances perhaps even a majority, who hold views which are almost unsayable in a modern political party (interestingly former Conservative MP, Howard Flight was sacked by then party leader Michael Howard for calling for public spending cuts).

Many people would, for example, like to see the reintroduction of grammar schools, an exit from the European Union, tougher sentences for criminals (perhaps even capital punishment) and lower immigration.

The disconnect between Parliament and the people was shown quite strongly this week when a ComRes poll suggested that over 40 per cent of Briton's oppose the government's intervention in Libya. Yet when it came to Parliament only 13 of the House of Common's 650 MPs voted against it.

The extent to which the political class are out of touch with the people can also be seen by the fact that they have given us a referendum on changing the voting system to AV, an issue which barely excites even proponents of electoral reform, but have continually denied a referendum on membership of the EU, despite promising to do so and significant demand for one.

Perhaps at today's Labour Party "listening exercise" there were those who would like a return to selective education, perhaps there were people saying that taxes are too high, maybe Gillian "bigoted woman" Duffy made the trip down from Rochdale to tell Mr Miliband what she thinks about mass immigration and perhaps there was a Bob Crow type trade unionist asking for a referendum on EU membership..

Somehow though it seems unlikely that the Labour Party will champion their cause, but then neither will the Tories.