“It’s That Inch We Live In” | Ashley Karamanski
‘There may only be an inch of difference between Labour and the Conservatives, but it’s that inch we live in.’John Lennon, 21st January 1971
It has been said many times, from many different sides of politics, that British politics is broken. Is this true?
Looking back to the days of Churchill vs Attlee and Wilson vs Douglas-Home, the differences between red and blue were clear; Nationalisation, privatisation, low tax, high tax, small state, big state and the list continued.
In 2022, you would be hard-pressed to find many, if any differences between them. The traditional left and right in politics has now ceased to be, and the great British public are left with a choice of voting for two main parties who spend all their time trying to capture the centre ground, and at the same time, often ignore their roots and traditional voters.
Boris Johnson’s Conservatives lost Chesham and Amersham, a traditionally true-blue seat. Sir Keir Stammer’s Labour lost Hartlepool which had been Labour since it was created as its own constituency in 1974.
In their quest to be accepted by more voters, the Conservatives have ignored their more traditional southern base in the home counties and what are thought of as more affluent areas. This could be attributed to Boris’ high tax, nanny-statism. Likewise with the Labour party, they have gone the other way and lost their traditional working-class voters, possibly because of their love for the woke ideology and several of their MPs failing to get the basics right, such as describing what a woman is. Policies that the wider country, outside of the M25, do not buy into.
Sadly, because of the UK voting system, people do not feel confident enough to vote for smaller parties, and often revert to the traditional party they are used to voting for. This is often because a traditional Labour voter is worried about getting a Conservative MP, and the same can be said for a Conservative voter who is worried about getting a Labour MP.
The United Kingdom’s general election voting system (First past the post) has its advantages of course. It nearly always provides a definite result, even on the rare occasion, the election result is a hung parliament, the situation is normally resolved fairly quickly and the business of government can continue as normal.
There have been calls for the UK to switch to a proportional representation, but a referendum on that question was held in 2011, and the result was clear with 67.90% of the country voting to keep first past the post. In the last few years, calls for a change in the voting system have arisen again, but this time, there doesn’t seem to be any appetite for it from Westminster, and with good reason.
The Conservatives hold their biggest majority since Margaret Thatcher, and that is going to be a mountain to climb for the Labour party in the next election, regardless of what the polls are saying. From Labour’s perspective, they have seen themselves rise in the polls recently as a result of poor government actions, and will be hoping to overturn the large Conservative majority, unlikely as it may seem.
The most common call is for proportional representation which gives smaller parties a much better chance of gaining representation in the house of commons. The main downside to this voting system, is that it doesn’t often provide one party with overall power, and what can happen, is what we see in Germany regularly, which is many parties with various levels of representation, and policies rarely get agreed on because of the parties’ different views.
In Britain, it could result in Labour, Conservative, Greens, Lib Dems all having to govern together, which could be a very difficult, and near impossible situation.
There are of course parties in the UK who represent something different to those inside Westminster, but due to a combination of first past the post, and a lack of media exposure, they often get ignored and cannot gather any traction.
Parties such as Reform UK (formerly the Brexit party), and the Social democratic party (SDP) both represent a blend of traditional left and right policies and could be an attractive proposition for voters if they could only get started.
There are of course more traditional left-wing options, such as; Workers Party GB, led by George Galloway. On the traditional right, there is the Heritage party, led by David Kurten, both struggle for the same reasons. Depending on your political viewpoint, these parties could offer a refreshing alternative in a different voting system.
Anyone would struggle to find a turkey that would be willing to vote for Christmas, and the same can be said for those MP’s sitting in the House of Commons.
Whilst Labour and the Conservatives maintain their duopoly over UK politics, it is highly unlikely any of them would vote for change, and without their support in parliament, a referendum could not be called.