Labour. Conservative. Liberal Democrat. The parties that claim to represent different sections of our society are the very foundation of our democratic political system, providing the people, in theory, with a democratic state in which Demos Kratos is truly valued. However, as the parties compete relentlessly for our support by hurling insults at one another and publicising issues in the private lives of party members (in a poorly disguised smear campaign attempt), we have to consider where our party system started to go wrong.
It could be argued that one of the key reasons for party politics is that the key divides are not so apparent as they were in previous centuries. During the times of the industrial revolution, it was a clear cut divide of those who owned the means of production versus those that toiled for these wealthy yet most likely corrupt individuals. Conservatives were clear supporters of the wealthy production owners, and all policy was centred around allowing, in effect, the rich to become richer. Labour, on the other hand, championed the overworked, underpaid, factory workers, using the support of the trade unions for supporting the worker and narrowing the divide between rich and poor. Two competitors battling it out in the political ring, fighting tooth and nail for control. However, as we approach modern day, this class divide becomes considerably less apparent. The creation of this new ‘Middle Class’ who were concerned about those less fortunate than themselves, complicated things for the ideological divide. There were now people who could vote for either party, and would vote differently each time, depending on policy, not just those who followed one party throughout their entire lives. Further complications came in the form of the increase of other political parties, most notably the Liberal Democrats, who some could definitely see as being the middle ground between both parties. Now the political scene looks more like a race, many competitors in different colours, red and blue quite far ahead but nonetheless still part of this race. These changes in the political system seem to have somehow led to a change in political rhetoric, disintegrating from intelligent political discussions, to personal slants on the opponent, including but not limited to name calling and use of the so called ‘Spin Doctors’ and the media. How can our politicians fail to see that all they are doing is further disengaging the general public from politics, further damaging their bid for office?
There are so many issues brought to the foreground through party politics. The first, most obvious, and almost indisputably important issue is public disengagement. Although, as a general population, we are not averse to a bit of scandal, and we definitely want any key issues highlighted, we do not wish to be informed about each MP’s minor issues. For most, this constant smearing of the opposing party either causes political disengagement as they despair over the entire political system, vowing to ignore it entirely, or it can have the opposite effect to that which was originally desired, in that the public may sympathise with the injured party, and perhaps be more inclined to vote for that party. Through their tactics, they serve to entirely ostracise themselves from the general public, proving that they are extremely out of touch with the growing concerns of modern people in areas such as Brexit. Even those that claim to represent the people fall foul at this hurdle. They may think our simple, uneducated minds cannot handle the intricacies of their policies and aims, but the truth is that this is what we want to hear about as this is why we elect them in the first place. The politicians are becoming so out of touch with the people one could argue that they barely fall inside the category of being representative. We want our country to be in the hands of a party that is sure of itself and is entirely in touch with the general public, not a brawling, screaming crowd of people who do not understand public consensus. If we wanted the latter, we would elect an army of four year olds.
Another key issue would be that this constant cycle of undermining one another serves to completely detract from the important job that these politicians have to undertake. They play a vital role in society, shaping this country and organising nearly every aspect of our lives, from our security to our education. We entrust in them the protection of this country and the role of negotiating and working peacefully with Europe and the rest of the world. We want desperately to trust their capability and to place our faith in them, but with all of this party politics, which can only be described as senseless bickering and name calling, how can we possibly do so with full certainty? The task that they have to undertake is complex and thankless and to be quite frank, party politics degrades the job they have to do and also serves to discolour the intelligence of the people involved. When all we hear are rumours, or smear campaigns, it can be extraordinarily easy for the general public to forget the huge responsibility that the government shoulder each and every day. This, in turn, can have a knock on effect on each party, especially the party who holds government. If people lack faith in the government, we are less likely to take the party seriously, resulting in less voters for the party, perhaps pushing more voters toward the radical parties. People forget the immense job government have to do and so, it seems, does government.
There are a plethora of reasons as to why party politics is warping our political system, not just those listed above, but the reasons given here are compelling enough. Party politics needs to stop, so we can live in a country managed by a group of mature individuals who can engage in political discussion with one another without having it disintegrate into a shouting match about someone’s supposed extramarital affair.