We are living in an Age of Political Disenfranchisement – Conservative Article
The more I speak to my politically conscious peers the more I realise that we are—overall and despite political leaning— thoroughly dissatisfied with our “leaders” and opposition.
I shall first examine what the Conservatives have been up to since gaining power in 2019 and what Labour has done as the opposition. I will finish off by looking at fringe actors such as the Liberal Democrats and Nigel Farage.
Boris Johnson has made a success of Brexit, alongside the trade deals that Liz Truss has managed to secure. That I will concede. Additionally, the vaccine rollout success has completely shown up the bloated bureaucracy that is the EU. The part of his politics that seems to have irked conservatives the most is his inability to hold his ground. His numerous ‘U-turns’ during 2020 and his consistent failure to be conservative show this.
There is a strong case to be made that he has been fiscally irresponsible during COVID, taking the easier option by simply ‘paying for everything’, rather than implementing policies that enable people to help themselves. The Prime Minister seems to have forgotten that the money he is spending is paid for by us, the citizens.
Furlough has helped people. I know many people back home who were only kept employed because of the scheme. But, had the UK not failed to prepare for a pandemic, we could have mitigated the need for such a policy. As no one has decided to chop up Boris’s credit card we will all undoubtedly be poorer in the long term. Boris Johnson and die-hard socialists do not seem to understand that there is no magic money tree. Both just seem to enjoy spending other people’s money.
With regards to social and cultural conservative values, the current government seems to also be failing its voters. Supporting inherently anti-conservative movements does not help maintain conservative values. The organisation BLM is the epitome of this. A self-described Marxist institution with leaders who do not even practice what they preach is a quick way to alienate not just conservatives, but ordinary people.
During this period, the so-called opposition has been worse than the current government in disenfranchising their support. Electing Sir Keir Starmer has worsened the divide within the Labour Party, much more so than Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader. Sir Starmer has proven to be more spineless and more of a demagogue than Johnson.
On top of this, as much as I disagreed with the proposals and political beliefs of Jeremy Corbyn, at least we knew what they were. It is obvious when talking to my peers that Sir Keir Starmer’s own beliefs are not abundantly clear. I often receive responses that refer to the Labour Party, as opposed to Keir Starmer himself. It is baffling that the fervent followers of Labour’s politics cannot tell me much about its leader.
There is an argument to be made that Labour has disenfranchised its traditional working-class support base for some time. During the rise of race-baiting movements and Intersectionality, there have been many traditional (arguably real socialists) who have heavily criticised the Labour party through social media and published print. The most significant, I believe, has been Paul Embery’s book in which he prophetically wrote that “Labour is too much Hampstead, not enough Hartlepool”.
We are genuinely living in a period where Labour looks down on the working class. It is very sad to see. The internet classic—Labour MP Emily Thornberry sneering at a house with St. George’s flags—really did sum up this attitude. Sir Keir Starmer’s interaction with a pub owner in Bristol also showed this.
On top of this, the Lib Dems may be facing a resurgence, as discussed in a previous POI article. As I summarised in my own response, the Conservatives continue to lose votes from the UK’s metropolitan middle-class areas. Labour also continues to flounder, existing without any true purpose. These factors create an opportunity for other parties to steal seats.
The Lib Dem victory at the Chesham and Amersham by-election was impressive, but not unexpected. People feel disenfranchised by the two main parties, and it is really beginning to show. During the second lockdown, Nigel Farage’s popularity on Twitter grew and there were a couple of instances where Labour MP’s endorsed what he was saying.
Nigel Farage is controversial at best. But if Labour MPs are agreeing with what he is saying more than the main party, you must certainly start asking yourself critical questions about your own appeal to the public. If ‘Mr Brexit’ is representing public belief more than either major party, political disenfranchisement must be quite severe.
Overall, I believe that neither of the two main parties is truly representing their voters or their voters’ beliefs. We have a Conservative Prime Minister who does not really conserve or act fiscally responsibly. And the Labour Party are too busy being St. George in retirement, rather than dealing with the more pressing matters at hand. All whilst leaving behind the working class.
A reasonable person never agrees with every single party-line belief and policy. Yet these days it seems that people disagree with more than they agree with. I think it is fair to say that British politics has gone off on a tangent, leaving behind the voters in attempts to either appease everybody or simply follow quixotic ideologies that the majority do not agree with. We live in an age with no leaders. Neither Boris Johnson nor Sir Keir Starmer have proven to be strong or reliable in their respective positions, and we shall all be the worse for it.
Written by Co-Deputy Chief of Conservatives, Peter Pearce
Point of Information
My Friend, What You Are Experiencing is Class Disenfranchisement – A Labour Response
My colleague Peter is correct. We live in a period where it seems less and less likely that our politicians are in it to help the ordinary people of Britain. Johnson’s approval rating as of writing is 39%, Starmer’s is just at 21%. So what’s going wrong?
While Great Britain has not (yet) fallen into the sea because of Brexit, that doesn’t make Johnson Britain’s top diplomat. There’s been the temper tantrum the UK government threw over the Northern Ireland protocol at the G7, major exports such as food and drink have fallen by half and our only major new trade deal we’ve seen with Australia is only set to boost 0.01% of our GDP.
At this point Johnson is famous for his U-turns. He achieved a personal best today of just 2 hours and 38 minutes after saying he wasn’t going to isolate due to Sajid Javid having COVID. As happy as I am that the usual Tory party line of maximising suffering for the most people possible has brief pauses due to Johnson’s lack of conviction, if I were in the position of a conservative voter, I would understand it makes the government look very weak.
The furlough scheme was a good strategy to keep jobs. To summarise very quickly, the macroeconomic theories of John Maynard Keynes advocated for high spending/lower taxes during economic downturns to support people and low spending/high taxes during prosperous times to encourage consumers so I’m in full support of the scheme.
Written by Senior Labour Writer, Brian Byrne
Recalibration in Progress? – A Liberal Response
As a Liberal Democrat, I can’t help reading the above article and response without thinking “I was ‘Disenfranchised’ before it was cool!”.
I also can’t help but question how much traditional politics has been derailed by COVID. Yes, Starmer has been a pretty lacklustre Labour leader. Especially with his challenges to the Prime Minister and Ministers concerning dodgy contracts. But would a more fervent attack on the Government’s policies and strategies have been beneficial?
Labour were in an unenviable position. Take welfare payments. Imagine if Starmer refused to back lockdowns and self-isolation legislation without upping the £96.35 a week statutory sick pay? With anti-lockdown Tories rebelling, Starmer was forced to back something rather than nothing, when that something was not enough.
As for Johnson, he might not be the true hard-line Conservative that Peter wants, but I think he is doing everything right—from a political rather than policy sense. The criticisms that Johnson and Sunak have been spend-crazy are far too ignorant, I feel. Consider the dire consequences millions of households would have experienced without the support of the government’s intervention.
COVID has also given a degree of shelter from some of the negative effects of Brexit. It’s near impossible to know how much of the mammoth GDP contraction was due to Brexit or COVID. Yet other G7 nations have not fared as badly and have bounced back quicker. For the most part, the public and businesses have great confidence in the economy. Or at least as much as did when they handed Johnson his majority in 2019. So, Johnson’s and Sunak’s somewhat unorthodox fiscal policy has worked.
The Tories have gotten used to the idea of using state power, and Johnson is not afraid to buck trends that would make conservatives of years past shudder. The Conservatives, or the ‘blue party’ will most likely signal their centrism for several years to come in order to ward off any threats from a Labour resurgence if Starmer finds his feet. That is, of he is capable of doing so before a leadership challenge.
Perhaps… the introduction of Proportional Representation might be the shake-up British Politics requires to re-enfranchise?
Written by Junior Liberal Writer, Daniel Jones
I am going into my second year at the University of Exeter studying a flexible combined honour in Geography and Politics. My interest in politics and geography stems from an interest in current events and the wider world, with geography being the study of all world processes.
I’m a queer loving feminist liberal, enough to make a hard-line conservative have an aneurism. I have been forced to this position having grown up witnessing and experiencing injustice first-hand. Politics sort of came to me, which it does if you are anything but a cis-white-heterosexual man. My life and the way I wanted to live it was unavoidably political, so I may as well get involved.