musings > politics
20 Jun, 2016 | 7 min read
I’ve long been critical of the Labour party for providing a weak opposition force to the Conservatives much slicker machine. But actually, if I were to ignore the little voice in my head calling for the public humiliation of Corbyn and his reckless endangerment of our economy through his unforgivable inertness during the referendum campaigning, I have a bigger problem.
Some people are saying that the coup could spell the end of the Labour party as we know it - that factions could split off and form their own parties. There are calls that the party needs to regroup and realign. We’re in danger of the biggest political meltdown in generations.
Good. Politics is broken.
Except, it isn’t. I don’t think Politics hasn’t become a bigger or smaller thing in our lives - it’s just that our understand of it has evolved. Yet our political system hasn’t. It’s not that politics is broken, I don’t think; it’s that the disconnect between the ‘way things are done’ and the way people understand politics has never been greater.
There’s a part of me that wants Labour to break up in to separate parties - New New Labour and the Socialist Labour Party - I don’t care what you call them. Sure, it would be a blow at first. But it would do one incredibly important thing. It would stop this ridiculous level of political infighting.
Because of the way we run the country - with MPs put forward by somewhat arbitrary constituencies and our country’s leader elected through a First Past The Post system - we have a Parliament where the natural equilibrium is a two party state. That worked perfectly well when there were only two parties, and a finite list of things that we gave a shit about.
We give a shit about a whole lot of things now, and there’s an entire roster of things that we don’t yet give a shit about but we really need to soon.
You know what I find interesting about British politics? Whenever there’s something super important to research or opine upon, Westminster appoints a cross-party committee to debate and deliberate and then provide a recommendation. In addition to this, our political backstop is the House of Lords, which is (broadly speaking) a proportional representation of parties and industrial sectors.
Why do we accept nothing else than proportional representation in these instances, and yet are content with the ‘day to day’ running of our country in the hands of a party that statistically speaking only ever gets 30% of the popular vote?
You have two options. You either elect elite officials to do all of the governing, and the ‘common people’ have zero say in anything. Or you elect a representational body to do the governing on your behalf, and you weigh in (as a ‘commoner’) on issues of grave importance. Half of you are going to read that and think ‘well we have number 1’ and the other half are going to read it and say ‘well we have number 2’. And that’s the problem. We have neither. We have some Frankenstein’s monster of a hybrid. We have a compromise.
Here’s my roadmap for the country, as my 3am brain sees it:
Now, I’m only marginally naive enough to think that any of this will happen. I also recognise that there are many issues with my - otherwise flawless - roadmap. Not least of which are a minimum of two separate stock market dives. I’ve also conveniently skipped over the bit where our political system looks over at two Labour parties and goes “nah”.
I guess my point though, is that our political system must surely be approaching untenable? Representation is an issue at every single vote. Yes we can argue about young people not turning up for the EU Referendum (and we should - you guys really let the side down), but actually isn’t this a symptoms vs cause thing? Should we not be looking into why young people didn’t feel enfranchised enough to vote?
The representation issue is about more than that though - I said earlier that a FPTP elected government has on average 30% of the vote. I didn’t pluck that number out of thin air - that’s actually the average figure for the last 5 elections. Why 5 elections? Because that takes us back to the 1980s, and the advent of globalisation from the point of view of people caring about things other than their semi-detached house and Ford Sierra. In other words, as soon as we - the ‘general public’ - started taking notice of bigger problems, party politics began its descent into anarchy.
I’m not saying I have any answers. I have no idea how to run country, or build a government, or design an electoral system. My only qualifications in this race are a BSc in Economics and Politics, and the fact that I care.
But I do care, and I am one of the electorate.
And also, this is my blog, so there’s that.