So it that time of year again! I am on holiday and relaxing on the beach … and at such times without the pressure of work and daily life my mind generally turns to more philosophical things. This year ahead of my holidays I have been wrestling with much of this already but my starting the book ‘Joy’ written jointly by Archbishop Des,one Tutu and the Dalai Lama along with the increasingly polarised and fractured society we live in have shaped my thinking significantly.
So …. here I sit on the beach at my resort in the Dominican Republic with this view …
In fairness, thinking and writing with such a view is not a chore!
The Brexit vote in June 2016 exposed many things in the UK and Europe. Specifically in the U.K. it showed that we have become a hugely polarised society. Polarised about our past, polarised about our future direction as a country and also polarised geographically and also by generation.
The Brexit vote and campaigns demonstrated a lack of judgement, a lack of facts, a lack of interest in facts across our political class and across the voting public. Both sides made claims and statements that were patently false or unsustainable. No one was interested in serious and informed debate and certainly politicians and voters had no interest in engaging and communicating outside of the circle of people that shared and reinforced their views either in real life or on Facebook. What an incredibly sad state of affairs for a stable democracy such as our own.
Aside from the outcome what did we learn? Geographically we are a divided nation. The South East is almost a different country to the rest of the UK with a vote shape totally at odds with the Midlands and North of England. Scotland and Northern Ireland also voted in large part differently to the rest of England. The inevitable conclusion is that decades of London centric political centralisation in England has created a divided society where much of the country feels misunderstood and ignored. Devolution in the regions seems to have mitigated this which is a good thing.
Equally, we have a young vote which had been disengaged from mainstream politics for many years and did impact the vote on Brexit as it could, perhaps should, have done. I have heard comments from younger voters that the older generation robbed them of their future in Europe …. which kind of misses the point of having a vote in the first place. Sad.
Since Brexit the lack of political leadership, the lack of vision, engagement and delivery on all political sides in the UK is clear for all to see. I am not making a party political point here … they are all as bad as each other! The Conservatives are divided and could not lead the country out of a paper bag, the Corbynistas want to re-run the politics of the 1970s pretending that the lessons from that failed socialist economic experiment are not plain to recall for all of us old enough to remember and the Liberals want to turn the clock back and rerun the June 2016 vote in what is perhaps the greatest arrogance of the three … their view being that the voters did not know what they were doing and made a mistake which they, the liberals can correct!
My conclusion? Our political system is broken, as in not fit for use, buggered, screwed …. you get my point.
How has this happened? My view on it is twofold.
Firstly, politics must be relevant to the people that vote within it. Voters must feel that their vote has an impact that they can see. Our current ‘first past the post’ system prevents this as a party can come a really close second in multiple constituencies yet get no MPs at all. All those who voted for the party that came second in all those constituencies feel their vote, individually and collectively, are pointless ….. which is why they disengage and don’t vote!
Second, to be able to influence policy and direction you have to be an MP. To be an MP you have to be selected by a political party for the ballot paper and the only way this will happen is if any prospective candidates are seen to slavishly follow the chosen party line! Independence of thought, idea or direction are simply ‘removed’ from the candidate option list. Little wonder we end up with the idea logically sterile bunch we have in parliament today …. it is our own fault for allowing this process to become so entrenched as it is today.
So that is the problem … but what to do about it?
The current politicians are not going to vote for change in the system or selection process. Why would turkeys vote for Christmas? No … we … the voters need to create change . Starting small to start with at a local level we need to start new political movements where people have a say, feel they matter …. and from that national movements grow. It can be done, Macron in France proves that. The issue is that we, the people have to do it. We have to stop accepting that our choice is just those from the mainstream on the ballot …. we don’t have to vote Tory or Labour …. we can deliver change by our country refusing to vote or by voting for independent local candidates with ideas relevant to their constituents as opposed to robots simply looking to climb the political greasy pole.
Idealistic … possibly. But to me continuing down the visionless path to blandness which the current system will inevitably deliver is a direction which frightens me for my children and grandchildren.
We have to advocate, create and then vote into power a changed view of the world and the, our, future.
Who is with me?
Right …. now for a swim! More musing on life later.