Party Politics Must End – Conservative Article
The current political environment is fundamentally flawed. The nation goes to the ballot box they know but there are only two genuine outcomes: A Conservative or Labour Government. In an atmosphere as polarised as our current one how is this justifiable? Neither represent the whole spectrum of views on the right or left well enough to be the blanket choice they currently are it is time to change and it is time change is now. Away from a two-party system and away from First Past the Post.
My position on this has revised dramatically and for one reason: my perspective of the effects of such changes failed to consider the impact on the main parties. If a multi-party system was implemented UK politics could be unrecognisable and for the better. When taught this topic all that you are led to believe is that it would just give more representation to the smaller parties that currently exist. Personally, all I could see was a Labour government propped up by the SNP and Greens. This failed to consider what would happen to the Conservative and Labour factions that have been at ends with each other in recent years.
Different factions could seize the opportunity to break away from the main parties without a certain end to their career. MPs could be forced to fight for their votes; not rely on the larger party to sell their campaign for them. When people vote they can vote with the knowledge that it can be for a party that would truly represent them. Currently, party leaders set the agenda and the position of the party, having parties clearly representing different parts of the right and left would stop this.
Recently, the ERG, the conservative Eurosceptic faction has gained attention for their guidance in Conservative party position. Under a different electoral system, factions like these could sit on the ballot paper alone. As would have been possible with those expelled from the party over Brexit. The Conservatives running as a pro-Brexit party has left many right-wing Remainers behind; in a multi-party system, this would not happen as a new party could represent them. If you want proof that it would not work in the current system…just look at Change UK.
Once you start to consider these possibilities you can realistically consider many different combinations of government that could work in coalition effectively. The more central factions of both right and left could work in government together. It’s not that far-fetched.
This is what the UK and especially the younger generations are crying out for. If you think young people are not engaged, you misunderstand. Young people are passionate, just look at single-issue campaigns such as the environment, or Black Lives Matter. We live in a political system where no party is right or representative so why get involved it that side of politics? Only a more proportional system will truly encourage better engagement and a better democracy.
This change would also improve our elections. Election campaigns focus too much on the negative aspects of the opposition. I can see why. In the knowledge that all that is needed is to beat the other main party, scare-mongering appears to be the surest way to a win on election day. Campaigns are therefore less about why they are the right party and more about why you should not vote for the opposition. This is not the way a democracy should be.
This is not to suggest that the character of an opposition, or the policies of their manifesto should not be debated, but it is up to the electorate to decide this. Campaigns must turn their attention back to their policies. Changing to a multi-party system will do just that, force every party to fight for their votes.
The only way to make these changes to UK politics is getting rid of First Past the Post. I have supported this system for many years. It creates a (potentially) more stable government providing majorities that ensure they can get their policies through. Even so, the kind of political atmosphere it creates is toxic for democracy and our society. The only problem is neither main party is going to give up power to change this.
In 2011, the coalition government held a referendum for a change to the Alternative Voting system. This was rejected, but that was already a given. AV was never going to be adopted, hence the Conservatives allowed it to happen. Other systems of voting must be discussed. One such option is AV plus. This system proposed by the Jenkins Commission of 1998 can still create majorities, but only in landslide election years, and does ensure better representation. This is not to say this is the perfect solution, but it is one option that should be discussed.
The key to whatever newly adopted system is encouraging factions to split from the main parties. AV plus would do so. It would ensure that there were more parties on both the left and right so that different views would be better represented.
It’s time that our system represents the political spectrum as just that, a spectrum, instead of one where there are either Conservatives for the right and Labour for the left.
Written by Chief Conservative Writer, Fletcher Kipps
Point of Information
End Incrementalism: Ditch the idea of Umbrella Parties – A Labour Response
I applaud the honesty of Fletcher’s article and think his revisionist mindset is exactly what we need as a country. Division and negativity are rife both within the political sphere, and the public. In recent years, both the main parties experienced large scale revolts, with leadership contests and rising factionalism. The answer? Steer into the skid and overhaul the system.
The idea of our big umbrella parties formally splitting into factions sounds scary but would provide far greater representation for voters. Our current party system encourages incrementalism – voting for the best out of the worst options. For example, I still vote Labour in the hope of ending the Tory era, but don’t endorse Sir Kier Starmer’s Labour. This is something many on the left of the Labour party feel. Would it not be much better for all of us to see parties representing our views accurately? Or be able to vote for these knowing it was not a wasted vote?
This is where Proportional Representation systems come into their own.
The quest for cohesion in bodies the size of today’s parties is a poisonous endeavour. In 2019, we saw 21 Conservative MP’s have the whip withdrawn due to the fact they opposed the idea of a ‘No deal Brexit’. The big party system has meant few people set the party line. The rest must toe this, or face threats from the party whip. This is epitomised by the Johnson-Cummings axis that operates unilaterally, and then informs the rest of the Conservatives of their decisions. Not only is this wrong, but it directly stifles political discussion in this country.
Smaller parties with a narrower scope of opinion, and restructuring of parliamentary debate, would provide an opportunity for more nuanced political discussions. This would lead to better policy. Parliament is meant to be THE arena for political debate! But it is a rubber-stamping exercise where the desire to be on the winning side dominates.
If we pursue the small party avenue, a coalition government will be a necessity. This, for some people, will conjure the idea of instability. Yet, Coalition governments have been effective in the past such as with the 2010 UK. You can even look to the German governments led by Merkel as evidence.
While neither of these examples represents me politically, both were successful at the helm of two key nations in Europe. If we encourage political cooperation, we can go a long way to tackling political apathy and that will make for better government and unified society. To do this we need to dismantle the ideas of two big umbrella parties.
Written by Guest Labour Writer, Henry Mckeever
Old-fashioned parties require drastic change – A Liberal Response
Overall, I agree with Fletcher here. The concept of Conservative versus Labour is old-fashioned and repetitive. Sure, we see new leaders coming in and out, but is there that much difference each election? The core problem with the current system is that too much power is given to one mindset. Yes, the public votes, and those that win have the power. While that makes sense, does it always result in the best policies? If we look at Germany’s Bundestag, we see a proportionate representation of the public vote. It creates greater diversity within politics. While Germany is a federal republic, a similar system could very easily be implemented in British politics.
As Fletcher said, today’s youth are more engaged in political and social movements than ever before. Youth empowerment goes hand in hand with change. Why should the state be run by traditional parties? These governments end up being the same as their predecessor when running the future of a nation. If this government was not solely run by major parties, we would see more social and political issues acted upon. We would see topics such as racism brought up more often if a new party fighting for that sole purpose was created. Although the party would exist, it doesn’t mean racism would suddenly end (although I wish it would!). But it does mean that the topic would be discussed more often by those in power.
But would anything change? If we have too many parties, and no coalition, then the risk of policies never being passed is high. We would likely see prospective policies struggling to get the votes they need, thus creating an ineffective government. Sometimes greater democracy leads to an ineffective one!
Written by Senior Liberal Writer, Charlie Papamichael
I am an incoming third year undergraduate currently studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Exeter. I am socially liberal, fiscally conservative editor here at POI. I have been fascinated by politics for many years, from PMQs to late night election results all which has led to the desire to study this at university.
I am entering the third year of a BA in History and Ancient History at the University of Exeter. I have a fascination with the past otherwise and you would hope so, otherwise I may have chosen the wrong degree. But, writing for POI gives me the opportunity to talk politics which is something I simply can’t avoid.
I am a second year student currently reading International Relations and Modern Languages at the University of Exeter.