Hyper partisanship is on the rise. However, in recent years there has been a public push for political consensus. This notion of unanimous decisions suggests a strong and broad agreement between the Tories and Labour on all major issues. With Britain experiencing an era of great division, many argue consensus is our only saviour.
However, it is clear that our system is deliberately set up to prevent this with a winner takes all First Past the Post system which usually delivers just a single victor. The very architecture of the Palace of Westminster is itself aggressive with a ‘showdown’ seating arrangement with just two sword lengths gap of protection. But is this really a bad thing?
The argument for consensus is simple: a united nation is a stronger nation. If both major parties agree that funding for the NHS should be increased then why continue to use the NHS as a political football. Compromise is a crucial part of politics as not everyone can be pleased so therefore let’s stop the nonsensical child-like bickering and move forward together. This idealised cosmopolitan view points to a supposed better future, but is this really the case?
The opposition in the United Kingdom acts as a check on the power of the Government. It holds them to public account and prevents a tyranny. Therefore, would consensual politics solve our problems or simply take away our access to them. The United Kingdom is currently ranked 14th on the global Democracy Index whilst the one-party state of China is 139th. The reason for our island’s success is the use of an effective scrutiniser. Hence, an agreement by all 650 in power has the potential to be corrupted. Other issues also arise: how long would these agreements last? How much would each party have a say – are 6.5 MPs worthy of 1%? Who would stop our 650 MPs abusing their lack of opposition to line their pockets and create the basis of an authoritarian regime? The answer – nobody. If we allow our representatives power without consequences then we the people will face the consequences. Ultimately consensus is simply another word for control of the masses.
With the House of Commons in a state of physical calamity should we rebuild in the shape of semi-circle or should we be proud of our lack of bi-partisanship. Political consensus fails to acknowledge plurality of society. And in a nation which is brilliant because of its’ multi-racialism and cultural diversity, this strips all citizens alike of their rights and identity.