Corbyn and Johnson, neither are exactly considered to be mouthpieces for the centre ground. With a clearer left and right than Britain has seen in decades, consensus has become less likely as divisions rise across both Parliament and the country. Brexit looms, and without discussion and compromise, it may be more than just our politics that ends up broken.
‘Politics is broken. Let’s change it’.
‘Change Politics for Good’.
Two new parties — so split on ideology, yet so clear on their view of British Politics. The pro-European Change UK and Eurosceptic Brexit Party both present their vision as one against the Westminster elite, against the status- quo, and as a means for the silent majority to have their voices heard. Yet, this attempt at consensus has been largely overshadowed by division and intolerance, with incompetence from both the Government and the opposition, leading to a lack of trust in politics.
A failed democracy
On the 7th of June, then Conservative leader Theresa May announced her resignation after three years as Prime Minister. Her decision meant a contest for the Conservative leadership, and as the governing party, also for the position of Prime Minster. As a result, the primary representative of Britain was decided by the 124,000 ‘strong’ Tory membership. What this means, however, is that the winner has a mandate from under 2 per cent of the population — and this issue allows one to reach the conclusion that the UK has been suffering from political breakdown far before Brexit. But when that winner is Boris Johnson, even bigger questions must be asked.
For a decision that was meant to provide stability and consensus, Britain’s decision to leave the EU is one that has caused nothing more than division and hatred. From the day campaigning began, tensions rose, and partisan alignment became a distant memory. The question posed was simple: Leave or Remain, yet it appeared to mean so much more to so many people.
When Labour MP Jo Cox was tragically murdered, essentially for her views on the issue, evidently, to describe our country as ‘broken’ is an understatement. The eventual result of 52:48 in favour of Leave should’ve been decisive. Instead, it brought up issues over tyranny of the majority, disgruntlement towards the Westminster elite, and a rise in dogmatic, populist politics.
Left and right
One could argue that British politics has taken a step backwards in the last twenty years. Long gone are the days of consensus, modernisation and progression under New Labour. Instead, we have now seen a rise in populism, from both the left and the right, as the ‘silent majorities’ seek to have their voices heard. Perhaps in correlation, we have seen both Labour and the Conservatives appear to take more radical positions. Previously, both had presented themselves as broad-church parties, accommodating a range of views. Those from the centre-ground have been forced to find new homes since the influence of the European Research Group and election of Jeremy Corbyn — with the latter described as a ‘Marxist’ by former Labour MP Chuka Umunna. In 1997, we had a prime minister with an approval rate of 93 per cent in Tony Blair. At the start of 2019, the nation’s approval rate of May and Corbyn combined was under 50 per cent. Whether that comes from a lack of trust in politicians or from the rise in populism, one thing’s for sure — British politics is broken.
The way forward
The issue with politics today is that it has become all about the ideology. It is about individuals saying, ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’. Politics is always moving, yet recently this has been backwards rather than forwards. Consensus is gone and in its place there is now hostile and ambitious division.
We have seen politics change shape, as the middle ground of compromise was forced out. Presently, hate-filled agenda is constantly pumped into society. We can all arguably agree that British politics is broken, but the real division is over how we fix it.