Lets call time on the tribal dance

I’m sick and tired of the childish tribalism in British politics, its about time we grew up and adopted a less confrontational system. I believe we need a more representative system that forces cooperation between parties, not the one we have now which promotes fighting against each other.

The house of commons sums up what I hate about British politics, one group of people sits on one side, whilst the rest sit opposite and oppose everything. I’m right, you’re wrong, you say this, therefore I must disagree. And the main attraction, Prime Minister’s questions, is a freak show of goons shouting, arguing and carrying on like children at a party with too much sugar and e numbers. Its embarrassing. It sets a really bad example, its almost like the louder, more obnoxious and more unreasonable you are the more qualified you are to be a politician. Debate is healthy, but only when it is a proper debate where all sides respect each other and act like adults. Is it any wonder that we have such a divided nation at the moment? We’re encouraged to take sides and no quarter is given.

We need a system that forces cooperation and in my opinion the answer in Proportional Representation. To start with, PR is a much fairer way of electing representatives, each vote counts and the country would actually get what it voted for. Inevitably it would lead to a more diverse range of parties winning seats too, and this would mean less chance of overall majorities, and a much higher likelihood of coalition governments, meaning forced cooperation and the country’s views being better represented by those in power. No overall majorities would also mean the extremes at either end of parties couldn’t get there way because cooperation would mean that a consensus view would have to be found, where a more moderate and sensible course of action is more likely to prevail.

Don’t believe the main parties when they tell you PR is bad because it causes weak government. Its crap. Their interest is in first past the post because it maintains their position at the top of the system, its a position forged from self interest not the peoples. The most recent coalition in British politics was obviously the Conservative Liberal Democrat one of the last government, was it unstable and un able to govern? No. The fact is that both parties had to cooperate and compromise, most commentators predicted that it would be a mess that wouldn’t last the term, but it did, and without any major fractures to threaten it. What did happen is that the extremes of each party were kept in check by the other side and we got a better government for it. I accept that many models of PR don’t allow for the constituency link with MP’s, but I’m sure a way could be found, we’re bright people, and with stronger devolution and more accountability locally, this wouldn’t matter so much.

The recent EU referendum has split the country, almost down the middle, band it has also showed the major parties are both deeply divided and unable to deal with issues that cut across part lines. Effectively there are two Tory Parties, the right wing Eurosceptic one, and the more centrist liberal one. These two groups share many values and indeed have much in common, however the fact is that the viciousness displayed throughout the campaign highlighted the divisions that existed before and will exist after. PR would allow for a split. One of the reasons that people who don’t really fit in a party still join, is because they want power, and in the first past the post system, nine times out of ten only one party is in power. A split in party would allow MPs the breathing space to be able to act more on their convictions and stand for what they actually believe, and PR would allow coalitions to be formed where common ground could be united.

Politics is too tribal, and I think the public are getting tired of it. The way politicians conduct themselves is important, they are asking us to trust them to make decisions which are in our best interests, but more often than not they act in a way that makes you think they are in it for the laugh, like its all a big game where points are scored for how well you can wind the opposition up. So lets end the tribal dance and work together to make politics work for us.

The people have spoken, well, some of them have

The 2015 General Election was meant to be the most unpredictable and tightly fought contests in British political history. Neither Labour or the Conservatives were going to get a majority, we were told, and there was going to be weeks and weeks of negotiating over deals and coalitions with all the smaller parties fighting to secure some kind or influence, including UKIP, who were going to make a breakthrough and win seats. What happened was not this.  As we know the Conservatives won a majority, UKIP lost a seat, and the Lib Dems were all but wiped out, in an election that surprised many and disheartened many more. There was one electric shock to the system however, Scotland turned yellow. The SNP managed to win nearly all the seats north of the boarder, sending Labour in particular back to England with their tail tucked firmly between their legs. This result has thrown up some serious questions about our political system, questions that the new Government will need to address.

A Tory majority?

The way our parliament works, and the fact that the Conservatives have a majority of seats, means effectively they can do what they want for the next five years. Fair enough I hear you say, they got a majority you say, well not exactly. In large parts of the country they didn’t get anything like a majority. Scotland is almost a Tory free zone, as are large parts of the north of England, so effectively they have the power to do what they want, even in areas that overwhelmingly voted for something else. This is a problem. It means that whole regions of the UK have zero representation when it comes to decisions that are made that effect their daily lives. If there were more powers at a local level this wouldn’t matter as much, because areas where certain parties are stronger would be able to elect the people they wanted to make more decisions that matter to their lives. This is the case in Scotland where they have a parliament of their own that can counter the fact there is a government in Westminster they don’t like or want, why not give other areas in the UK this opportunity? Many people in England are now starting to ask this question.

#takeuswithyouscotland?

#takeuswithyouscotland has been very interesting, for two reasons, firstly that large numbers of northern English twitter users would seemingly identify themselves with the Scottish more than they do with the south of England and secondly that lots of Scottish tweeters are very sympathetic, some even encouraging the idea. I don’t want the north of England to join Scotland, I don’t in any way feel Scottish, however I definitely feel closer in many ways to those north of the border than I do with many of my supposed countrymen in the south of England, I think the same could be said for Wales, but I also feel English in many ways too. The thing is my Englishness is secondary to my Yorkshireness and I don’t feel like the London based parties understand this. I want my county to have a voice that is listened to, like Scotland, and I think many other regions of the UK agree.

Representative democracy?

I’m no supporter of UKIP, in fact I’m almost the total opposite, but you can’t deny they got over three million votes in this election, and that equalled only one seat, on the opposite of this, the SNP needed less than two million to secure their 56 seats. This isn’t democracy. Some form of PR is needed in the UK to solve this problem and give the people the representation that they voted for. Arguments against PR are mostly rubbish, like the argument that PR gives you weak government, look at the Scottish parliament, a strong system that uses PR. I agree, however, that there is a question around providing local MP’s and the way that is not compatible with straight forward PR, but we are a very clever bunch, the human race, we’ve sent people to the moon, I’m sure we can find a workable system of governance that represents better the votes that people cast.

The system as it is, is broken, we have entire regions of the UK that are under the rule of a government they didn’t ask for, and literally millions of people who voted for parties that have no representation in our parliament, or have no way to influence it at all. In my opinion by giving regions more power over the decisions they make, and making those power making organs democratic and accountable, you give people a reason to vote, their vote would matter, and their regional voice would be better heard. We also need a more representative system of national government. Lots of people vote tactically for people they don’t want to, or don’t vote at all, simply because the system doesn’t work. Of course, we have a majority government in power, so I won’t hold my breath.