Let’s face it, our political system is broken and probably long beyond any effective repair, at least it is in its current format…
Our system of political parties, which has existed (in one form or another) since at least the 18th century, is (apparently and alleged to be) “an essential element in the workings” of our National constitution. But, since the Second World War, all of our UK Governments have been formed by either the Labour Party or the Conservative Party.
Nearly all MPs represent political parties. The party with the most MPs after a general election normally forms the Government. (The Party System)
This means that policies and any subsequent legislation, have a tendency to to deliver time limited ‘advantages’ (depending on your political beliefs) for our country. Any positive (or negative) impacts on society, born in the political direction of the time, means that we constantly lurch from left to right. Very little, in political circuses, is done with a view to any long-term impacts. It’s all about political populism and appeasement of the electorate in the here and now.
No sooner has one policy begun to take effect, before it is undone at the behest of any subsequent opposition taking power. This ensures that both economically and socially, our society will always have its ups and downs, as a result of the political yo-yo.
Increasingly and like a raft of others, I’m concerned this ‘system’ no longer serves our societal purpose or needs, always assuming it ever did. I also believe that in a large number of respects, it is also ‘the system’ that is breaking communities and our society as a whole.
…politics today …all about the ideology – It is about individuals saying, ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’. – Consensus is gone and in its place there is now hostile and ambitious division. (Politics is Broken, Shout Out UK)
Some argue that our political class has only ever served itself, rather than the population that it supposedly serves. With the passage of time, I have to say I increasingly agree. So, is our current system really still fit for purpose any more?
Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. (Plato)
Self-serving politicians have been shafting us all over recent decades, irrespective of our individual social class, or their choice of seat in that hallowed hall of the political divide, which many like to think of as the Birthplace of Modern Democracy.
Personally, and from the historical perspective, I would argue that democracy actually began long before the Palace of Westminster. The ethos of all ‘democracy’ find its roots in the philosophical thoughts of the Ancient Greeks, in the city-state of Athens. And yes I am aware, there are many forms of democracy… some better than others.
But even as today’s politicians shuffle to their chosen political ‘side’ it’s no longer an indication as to their individual integrity or personal beliefs. Let alone a clue to any future political direction which they may take us on, and again, always assuming that was ever the case.
Because today, even the politicians can’t follow their own party line any more, let alone make their minds up about situations that impact upon the rest of us. Brexit being a prime example.
Again self-interest abounds, politicians find it difficult to differ and then move forward. That’s one reason why we’ve seen so many more of them jumping ship to a different political party recently. But the situation we currently face isn’t a new phenomenon. In reality, politicians have been flipping their allegiances for decades, to preserve self-importance, ‘power’ and perceived status.
There is nothing permanent except change. (Heraclitus)
To be fair, humans can and do change their minds. With maturity, new knowledge and improved levels of cognition, we develop and continue to move forwards (hopefully).
We should all have that capability to change but unfortunately, that clearly isn’t the case for some. But, when you can adapt and be flexible, change comes easier, especially when it comes to our thoughts, feelings and emotions… which are all based upon our current and past beliefs.
Even those important issues, that form the fundamental framework of our lives and social ethics can be adapted, to fit our personal growth as well as the greater good of society. Always assuming we hold an interest in others, rather than purely self.
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. – The measure of intelligence is the ability to change – Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former. (Albert Einstein)
Over time, situations and circumstances change, we can and should so why should our politics (or the political system) be any different?
Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.
The above quote, variously but wrongly attributed to Winston Churchill (read more), as well as others, captures the common belief that you have to be “young and idealistic” to be on the left of the political spectrum, whilst those who lean to the right are usually from older generations and a little more pragmatic. Is there any evidence for this? Do we really become more Conservative with age?
To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often. (Winston Churchill)
Some could argue to the contrary but, from a personal perspective, I’m fairly sure I haven’t moved from left to right. If anything I’d say it was probably in the opposite direction (for me) however; my personal political persuasions have (mostly) and nearly always taken up residence in the middle-ground, mostly for reasons of diplomacy and conflict resolution.
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)
I can’t be doing with all this polarity and anger, life is too short. It is possible to hold a strong opinion however; your’s might well be different to mine but that doesn’t necessarily mean mine is more correct than yours. But even my warm and fluffy comfortable place doesn’t seem to hold the same attractions that it once did. All the more reason why our system needs to change.
As we approach the ongoing debacle of the imminent General Election Peston said something I tend to agree with;
Talk about chalk and cheese, or bicycles versus fish. How on earth do you decide, if you haven’t made up your mind already, which you like best? (Robert Peston)
That once prominent ‘blind’ following of one side or the other, based upon social class, economic factors and what your father voted for, in a predominantly two party political system is mostly no more.
UK politics has changed for ever. The main parties must adapt or die: British politics has long been seen as dominated by two big parties, each with a block of loyal supporters, and a small number of “floating” voters between them. This was an accurate picture of elections in the early 1950s, when over 80% of the electorate voted Labour or Tory. But this two-party domination began to weaken from the late 50s, a trend that has continued ever since. (Letters: The Guardian, June 2019)
Which ever political flavour of the month you might chose today, the majority now usually hold extremes of angry opinion and direction.
Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. (Mark Twain)
And most of our politicians are shouting their brand of angry discourse through provocative megaphones. Usually providing little more than attacks upon their opposition, all dressed up in rhetorical hyperbole. Clearly many know nothing of the worthy Epictetus philosophy… “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak”!
Today’s political debate is now so often riddled with PR gimmickry, mischievous untruths or blatant lies. But, perhaps this was always the case, It’s just that I didn’t really notice until I got older?
Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens. And…There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will. (Epictetus)
And now this, post the London Bridge terror attack, we have all the politicians seeking to grasp popularity points… despite saying they wouldn’t.
Is it any wonder that (some) in our society are actually sick of all this political sparing formed in self-interest?
Some form of proportional representation and/or non-partisan Government is long overdue as sadly; many are now saying, all we have left is to vote for the lesser of two evils.
The current political classes (and media), on both sides of our political divide, who sit comfortably well-healed and ensconced in their Westminster micro-bubble of self-interest, really do have a great deal to answer for when it comes to the negative social impacts of our fractured society in Broken Britain!