Even the most fervent political party supporters will struggle to avoid acknowledging the general disillusionment and feeling that many people now experience with British politics.
The fact is that all of the mainstream political parties – even UKIP, will continue the same way that they are currently doing so at their own peril.
For many of us, seeing yourself as being cut off and without even the remotest hope of being able to influence anything in Government is not a pleasant experience. Least of all when we see decisions being made which we can in no way relate to, or changes taking place in our own communities or neighbourhoods that simply have no reflection on what we or anybody else that we know seems to think.
A lot of people toy with the idea of putting up or shutting up where today’s political mess is concerned.
It is also a pretty safe bet that whilst they may not openly talk about it, many of the people that you know will have experienced one of those moments where they just ‘know’ that things could somehow be a lot better and that the way things are today, simply aren’t right.
Some already have the platform to speak loudly about the injustices of a political system that serves its own interests before anyone else.
Yet many more people outside the world of politics and celebrity are frustrated by the seemingly endless status quo where nothing ever changes and politicians happily tell us that everything is improving when quite frankly, just about everyone but them seems to know that it isn’t.
It comes as little surprise then, that in elections, a growing number of people are voting for parties and Independent candidates outside of the ‘traditional’ remits of the Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat Parties, and that there are a growing number of political parties being established right across the Country.
Very few politicians are prepared to openly acknowledge the lack of balance and consideration for the consequences of ill-considered policy making throughout Government.
But those that do almost certainly share the desire of all people outside of politics to see something different to what everyone else today seems forced to experience.
However, those that do understand both the situation and the way that British Politics works will also probably question just how much benefit the creation of a plethora of new movements will bring to us all, when what the UK needs is change of a very radical and meaningful kind. Change that we all need to experience right now.
The realities of starting a new political ‘movement’
To get some real perspective of the impact a new political party is likely to make, the history of UKIP provides a very clear guideline.
Born from the embers of the Anti-Federalist League in 1993, it took the United Kingdom Independence Party 21 years to get its first MP genuinely elected to Parliament and then, only through the focus of the electoral magnifying lens which is a Parliamentary By-Election.
As a single-issue Party, it is at best a rare and perhaps unique combination of a cause célèbre – which gave UKIP a nationwide profile – and the current political climate with the electorate looking for change, that had placed the Party in a position of being electable in the ‘mainstream’.
Had Europe not been the UK’s political bogeyman for such a long time, UKIP or indeed the anti-European movement itself would have almost certainly been absorbed mechanically by one or perhaps all of the main parties long ago. If indeed the creation of a new political stream beyond that of the others had been necessary in the first place.
This reality demonstrates the greatest threat to any new party. As finding traction with any issue that is palatable in mainstream thinking is unlikely to take place much before one or more of the other political parties adopts a position on the same footing.
We only need to observe the way that the Conservatives and Labour have struggled to regain or rather recapture the initiative from UKIP over issues such as immigration to understand what happens when an issue finds its way from the outside into what political commentators might call the centre ground.
In this instance, we are once again seeing party political machines manoeuvring themselves with the simple objective of securing future power, rather than engaging in any kind of meaningful change that demonstrates an understanding of the real issues which sit behind the public discontent.
The Party Political Paradox: We want change. We all know this. We also know that the establishment isn’t working for us. But it’s called the establishment for a very good reason.
When you consider the history and conditions that have supported the longevity and then the rise of UKIP up to the European Referendum, you soon begin to realise that the biggest problem facing any new party will be its ability to become big enough to reach and engage enough people to gain the national level of recognition and momentum which could see it effect the kind of change that we all now actually need.
Nobody should be under any illusion that as an electoral force the best UKIP could ever have hoped to achieve would have been to win the support of the biggest parliamentary party for perhaps one or two key policies, and then sell itself in compromise against everything else, just to have its moment of power.
In reality, the de facto choice or rather, the established political parties, will continue to morph or adapt their policies to be seen to answer the ‘UKIP question’. In doing so, they will work to assure themselves a working parliamentary majority again at the earliest available opportunity.
You may think that one moment in time is all that it will take to enact change. But we are all already experiencing the fallout from the political stalemate that ensues from a hung parliament. And this is at a point when most of the Westminster political parties are culturally the same, even if their philosophical viewpoints don’t quite appear to match.
The hard truth is that we are facing a situation where a majority of MP’s will be required to work together to address all the issues and to change all the policies which will impact upon those issues. Also ensuring that the impacts of those changes do not then themselves cause other problems that people looking for balance and fairness in their lives simply do not need.
This situation creates a dilemma and significant paradox.
We are all either consciously or subconsciously aware that we do as such need political parties in the sense that they exist today – or an acceptance and appreciation of common ground between a majority of politicians, in order to effect the change for the better that we need within a genuine democracy.
Yet we are all just as equally aware that it is being of the establishment that provides the platform or power base to enact change; ground which is currently infested with a self-serving political culture and party political system which quickly excludes voices for change and sings the song of populist thought whilst giving it nothing more than a hollow meaning.
So how can we really win?
The circumstances surrounding traditional politics in the UK dictates that it functions through a culture of compromise.
Furthermore, the contemporary political party machine puts submissive compromise at the core of its recruitment and management processes.
If compromise is necessary in any way at all, the policies which result will not have genuinely been created with consideration of the best interests or of the consequences for all truly in mind.
In order for us all to win, it necessarily requires that there is a genuine change in mindset, whether that be for the incumbent political parties – which would arguably be a much more productive situation for everyone; or that change itself manifests within the many new and existing groups and independent or ‘open’ minded people out here in our communities who so desperately want to see that change, that they are ready to stand for political office.
You may have heard the saying ‘you can’t beat the system’.
If you have come up against the way that Government and all things legal work, you will probably be able to see the truth in this statement. Even when you know that the system is itself flawed and fundamentally wrong.
For those who have been burned by the frustrations and the ‘banging your head against a brick wall’ that comes with it, there is no pleasure in seeing new and enthusiastic people entering politics who either quickly become disillusioned with the realities of the system, or simply buy in to a culture where all those following ‘leaders’ who lead only for themselves, then come to live and believe the idea that ‘this is just the way that things are’.
It may seem a lost cause to those who are prepared to accept the status quo as it is and not take any risks.
But that simply isn’t the truth, and all it would take is for enough of the people already within the system to say ‘no more’ for a real difference to begin unfolding.
Change the system from within (But don’t buy in to the propaganda…)
The easiest way that we could create change, would be for that change to come from within the system itself. That would mean influencing politicians at all levels by becoming the voices that they have no choice but to listen to, i.e. becoming part of the parties themselves.
The problem with this approach is that it has been tried all too many times, and some very good people have failed or ultimately have become part of the very problem that all of us ‘out here’ are currently experiencing.
As they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely… Today we are experiencing the outcome of decades of the development of a party political system that favours the ascendancy of a whole generation of politicians who treat political office as little more than a job and career, rather than being the responsibility to the electorate that most of us outside of the ‘bubble’ know that it should actually be.
Many Westminster party politicians get selected and promoted thereafter by saying and doing the right things for the right people. A good number of sitting MP’s today will have made it to Parliament by going along a career pathway which equips them to progress within the system extremely well, but gives them little working knowledge of what the real world is like outside.
How can they make genuinely good decisions affecting the lives of others when they have no real life experience themselves?
The very sad and highly regrettable reality is that getting enough of our sitting MP’s to change and give the British people the real voice that they should have through a majority is very unlikely.
The political culture of today says ‘don’t rock the boat or you will get thrown out’ and very few contemporary politicians are brave enough to take on a system which takes control freakery to a whole new level.
Change the system from without (But don’t look at your fight as being one that you can win alone…)
This is where the creation of a new movement or party becomes the attractive option.
But with the realities of establishing just one party that could make a difference covered above, there has to be an acceptance that creating a whole plethora of organisations will in time prove to be no more effective than getting a similar number of independent MP’s elected to Parliament.
On their own, small, localised and local community-based-issue parties will very occasionally gain enough momentum to get an MP Elected.
But as just one of over 600 Parliamentary Seats, you can soon see how little chance there would be of making any measurable kind of difference for us all.
However, working together is a very different proposition.
If it were to be the case that the genuine commonality could be found between all of the disparate groups that are currently ‘out here’ already, or which may be launched at some point in the future, the potential would then exist for something very special to happen.
Knowledge of the Net and Social Media makes the task sound very easy. But without a formula that lights that spark between a whole range of people who have had the independence of mind and motivation to get something ‘of their own’ started, the prospects for success are pretty slim.
After all, some may simply be falling into the trap of thinking that politics is all about one idea ‘winning’ against the ideas of someone else. It is likely to be the case that for many, that very idea is based upon an issue which is personal to them and perhaps just a few people that they know.
If every politician made every decision and promoted every cause on the basis of what will serve the best interests of all, whilst also considering and making allowances for the impact of those decisions on everyone else as they do so, we would no longer require left-wing or socialist politics, parties of the centre ground, or indeed the politics of the right.
Tribal politics makes debate a competition, rather than a process of exploring the methods and plans that will genuinely solve the problems that we all face.
The cold hard reality is that however fair, just or right the ideas might be which underpin the motives of a new party; without losing the idealism, the philosophy and the ‘my idea is better than yours’ mentality, any new movement is unlikely to prove itself to be any better than the Conservatives, Green, Liberal Democrats, Labour or UKIP Parties given time.
Thinking a different way:
As a culture, we have been conditioned to look at everything we experience in terms of how it either relates to or affects us personally.
This has taken place at a subconscious or even subliminal level and anyone who really wants to effect change by creating a new political movement, must themselves become mindful of the processes which sit behind this for themselves. They must then begin encouraging others to also be mindful of the impact that everyone and everything has on us, the people in our lives and the world we live in.
This is no mean feat and has to be achieved without getting sucked into any of the idealist elephant traps which litter a road where thinking in practical terms is key.
More and more people are waking up to the lack of balance and fairness in their own lives and those of others. But just as in the case of the Hundredth Monkey or what we colloquially call ‘memes’ that virally attract attention in what seems like the blink of an eye, the kind of awakening and preparedness that we are discussing here will have to reach a point of critical mass or the seminal moment when a positive direction of travel which cannot be influenced by any of the powers that are aligned against it is achieved.
Regrettably we have to accept that this may not be a realistic prospect on an organic basis alone.
Wait for the wheels to fall off from the inevitable meltdown (that has probably already started…)
Bleak as it may sound and as unfavourable as it may be, change itself may well have to be precipitated by a meltdown or history-changing event which opens the general population to thinking in a very different way.
One that also leaves politicians who are not prepared to put the genuine need of the electorate first, with no power to prevent the ascent of those who are.
Today, there are a considerable number of issues that at one degree or another could easily prove to be the catalyst or forerunner of an event, or series of events which create the seedbed for this situation.
These might include:
• Brexit: Leaving the European Union looks like it will be far from straightforward. With a real chance that the Remain lobby will succeed in forcing the establishment to welch on the outcome of the European Referendum Vote, we really could see the UK thrust into a constitutional crisis which could easily escalate in many unfortunate ways.
• The Economy: The UK is effectively bankrupt and accumulating debt at an unprecedented rate. Politicians are continuing to write cheques on the basis of winning elections, rather than doing what they really need to do. The Government’s approach to spending does not reflect the perilous state of both the Deficit and the National Debt. The irresponsibility of thinking that borrowing can continue to grow at the current rate, just to keep a small number of people in power takes stupidity to a whole new level. Interest rates rising alone could be enough to blow the narrowing Deficit wide open and to a level which cannot be sustained by putting the problem off for someone else to deal with. What happens when the Government can borrow no more?
• The cost of living crisis: Beyond the attempts of some politicians to hijack a real issue and hollow it out for political gain, the disparity between rich and poor, the housing crisis, price rises on essential goods, cuts in public services, energy prices, low pay, the broken welfare system, non-reform of banking and the City, and the cultural inclination to look at every transaction and relationship in terms of the profit it will make, could all lead to civil rest of a kind which would eclipse the Summer Riots of 2011 and potentially make Revolution seem like a very real prospect.
• ISIS & Terrorism: We really do not know what lies ahead and what the impact will be from the growth and development of this horrific form of terrorism, and what its real and longer term impact will be upon our own society if terrorism should return to the UK at any significant and ongoing level.
• Others: Issues such as the over extension of ‘rights’ and what this is doing to our society could also have an impact of a kind which right now may seem fanciful to those with their heads buried firmly in the sand. The West’s deteriorating relationship with Russia also comes to mind, and whilst it sounds alarmist to even suggest thinking about the realities which could all lay behind, the fact remains that any of these issues could blow up into something which could become very meaningful to us all at any time.
We do need new people to come forward; to bring change and to introduce a new dimension in politics. To create a new paradigm that genuinely serves the best interests of us all.
But those who want change also have to see the situation for what it is, and ‘play the game’ that politics and government has become.
As a population, we most certainly do deserve something better and it is possible to have it too.
We just have to be realistic about the route which we will have to travel to get there and what the true cost and implications of that journey might be.
If you are thinking about starting a new political party or standing in an election and you think that your own ideas are the best, or that your own interpretation of someone else’s political philosophy is the only way we will win; the fact is that we are already one person nearer to everyone else losing a whole lot more.
Can you be the Independent or ‘Open’ mind that will help the UK to decide?
This page was updated and adapted from my Blog ‘Britain’s Political Crisis: Set up a new political party; stand to be an independent MP; but however frustrated you are with Politics, do bear in mind…’ Published on www.adamtugwell.blog on 2 December 2014.