Why British politics is broken
Our system of democracy is crumbling, but fixing it is harder than we may think
The palace of Westminster and the halls and chambers in which our country is governed is physically crumbling. Last year, MPs voted in a refurbishment set to cost billions in tax payers money. It is perhaps the greatest metaphor for the sorry state of British politics in 2020, except no amount of money in the world can rebuild our democracy.
It has long been said that politics in Britain is in need of a reboot. An antiquated system which is run on the day to day by MP’s who shout, grumble and bicker over each other in almost every issue brought to Parliament.
The cracks in our political structure were beginning to show long before Brexit, but the agonising and soul-sapping longevity of our departure from the European Union has broken it wide open. We find ourselves four years down the line since the referendum which was given to us by a Prime Minister who bolted almost as soon as the result was announced. It is the British people as a whole, as well as cumbersome politicians, who are left to pick up the pieces.
Brexit changed the UK, and the pros outweigh the cons. It has stalled the country into a state of paralysis. Everything was talked about in the future tense, with ‘after Brexit’ this and ‘post Brexit’ dominating almost every fibre of political conversation and policies discussed in parliament. The perpetual slogan of ‘get Brexit done’ was rolled out by every leave voting politician from Boris Johnson to Nigel Farage, and yet almost half a decade later what do we have? No official departure and nothing more than a vague chance of getting any kind of deal from the EU.
The overconfidence in leaving the EU is nothing more than another symptom of the plague which is British Exceptionalism. The people were sold the idea that the EU would offer us the world in order to keep us within the Union or at least as a solid trade partner. The constant shifting from ‘we will get a deal’ to ‘we don’t get a deal’ was peddled by all involved with the leave campaign. We had nothing in place for the leave decision and the four years of bungling is evidence of this.
Brexit was supposed to unite the nation moving forward into a new beginning, yet all it has done is divide us more than anyone could possibly imagine.
Another consequence of the failing system is how leaders of political parties, and often the country, are elected. When Theresa May resigned in June last year, she opened up a leadership vote in which just 120,000 Conservative Party members had a say. Less than 2 per cent of the UK population could vote for a man who was Prime Minister for over four months before allowing the public their say in a General Election.
The days of politicians enjoying overwhelming support from the people are over. Not since the days of Tony Blair and New Labour has a government been so enjoyed. Blair once had an approval rating of over 90%, last year Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn had a combined rating of under 50%.
A major issue in the crumbling of British politics is the inability to constructively debate and conclude on a topic, giving it a suitable outcome. Our political structure is rife with an ‘I’m right and you’re wrong attitude’ which not only exists in Westminster but is inherent within society. Not enough people are able to argue anymore and the idea of a middle ground compromise is seemingly forbidden.
Others around the world may look upon the political system in the UK with envy, but there is no need. We are a nation divided in political and social factions, destined to be forever nagging away at each other from the extreme ends of the spectrum. Unity and civil political discussion may return one day, but only long after the current fleet of self-centred members of the political elite have faded away into irrelevance.
Young people situated at points all across the political spectrum have shown more maturity and democratic savvy than many elected Members of Parliament. These are the people who have the greatest chance of salvaging the integrity of British politics.