The beginning of the end
We are witnessing history in British politics, not just history but important history. This is the beginning of the end of a three party system which has effectively served us since the second world war. Their share of the vote has descended from the high nineties to scraping around the sixty percent benchmark with both Labour and the Conservatives struggling to garner 30% of the vote. Now you may think I blame UKIP for this like a lot of the establishment who seem perplexed at how to solve this problem. However you would be wrong. There are myriad problems of which I shall attempt to explain at least some of them.
The lack of leadership
This is the first cause, Not only do I mean the poor leadership of the main parties in general, especially of the Labour and Liberal Democrats which see their respective leaders opinion poll ratings to be about on the same level as the love of cholera. As this explanation wouldn’t be a sufficient reason on its own for the collapse of the Conservative vote under their generally popular leader David Cameron. However there seems to be a lack of real policy positioning within the main parties, now it is true people have rarely voted on specific policy as the literature available by people like David Denver show. However they could get a ‘feel’ for policy with the broad ideological brush strokes of the party which have now disappeared almost entirely from the open view. Everyone wants ground which is classed as ‘middle england’ but by sacrificing everything for this middle england the parties have lost themselves and lost votes. This has lead to a lack of leadership from the parties, instead of them guiding the electorate, at the moment they are merely responding to them which means a party cannot be truly popular in of itself.
Out of touch
A common criticism is that the parties are seen to be out of touch. This has been demonstrated most recently with the former Attorney General’s tweet with a white van and a house draped in England flags. It didn’t matter that the MP who tweeted it was brought up on a council estate, or that the picture could be construed as innocuous especially as an earlier tweet emerged of a similar picture praising that house. It isn’t that parties are necessarily out of touch, indeed Labour in their policies are trying to help the worst off in society and their propaganda is also based around the worst off and hitting the rich. The problem is they are being perceived as out of touch, often by innocuous incidents such as this, claiming multiculturalism is a good thing, and having gone to public school and Oxbridge meaning that many believe they cannot perceive life as an ordinary person. This is of course a false conclusion, and those who are seen as being ‘in touch’ such as UKIP have a glass ceiling as to what percentage of the vote they can hit.
Minor parties having a say
My third and final point is the minor parties are beginning to have a say in terms of seats. This has been born out of UKIP, The Greens, Respect all picking up seats in Westminster since the last general election, along with the strengthening of both the SNP and the Welsh Nationalists who will doubtless pick up seats in the next General Election. Indeed in Scotland Labour are being faced with the very real prospect of being kicked out of Scotland, with the Greens and UKIP all targeting seats held by Labour or the ones Labour are trying to take. The Conservatives vote is being chopped into bits by the resurgent UKIP, and the Liberal Democrats simply losing out everywhere they seem to go. People no longer see smaller parties as just a protest vote but a genuine alternative who can change the culture and politics of center ground Westminster.
Big history is being made, with next years General Election being the most unpredictable since the Second world war and beyond, the three party system is all but over. What is left to be decided is what will replace it and how the parties respond. There is still time to save the system but the parties seem to lack the big imagination, honesty and popularity to be able to salvage themselves. At least it’s interesting.