I recently had a conversation with my Mum about my worries of the political disconnect that is rearing its worrisome head globally, and I thought you, my readers (and buddies), might also appreciate what was discussed. For the purposes of this discussion, I am going to focus on British politics although I find that the general principles I will be highlighting are not exclusive to my homeplace. Indeed, I think many of the points are very applicable to many other countries around the world and this highlights the worldwide malaise we are experiencing.
I do not think it is a secret that the general population within the United Kingdom feels disconnected from their government. Indeed, the voting turnouts in our general elections have taken a staggering dive in the last century dropping from a turnout of 80% of the population in the 1950s to 60% in the most recent elections. People think that our elected officials are “all the same” or that they do NOT represent their views and beliefs. The common man cannot relate to a wealthy ultra educated career politician who has no experience of the “real world”. Important matters such as healthcare and education become back seat issues while divisive and emotion-driven issues such as immigration take the forefront. In the last election we had in 2015, it’s certainly true that issues such as immigration and the offer of a referendum on leaving the EU were high on the mind of the electorate. It’s odd but it’s much the case that when things are not prosperous, rather than blaming global economies or bad government management, the populous looks for alternate reasons for blame. In that sense, the immigrant population is an easy target.
But are the political parties the same? Well, no. They aren’t. And their foundations are not either. Indeed, the Liberal and Conservative parties have long and old histories in British politics while the Labour Party was founded by and for the working classes. But the “working class” has changed somewhat in recent times. Those who work are not necessarily living in poor conditions and the rise of the middle class has meant that the general population is even more divided. Political parties often focus on target populations with the conservatives protecting the wealthy while the Labour Party is supposed to represent the lower and working classes. Meanwhile, these days, the Liberal democrats represent something like in between. A fundamental problem with all of the above is the leadership of all the parties. These leaders do not try to speak to the whole population. They do not try to connect. They speak to their fan bases and make promises primarily to keep those people on their side. I do not recall a time where I have felt that I have had a politician reach out to me, a voter and properly explain to me why I should vote for them. Often, the party leaders and main party members are more keen on collecting sound bites than they are making solid pertinent points.
Like I said, the United Kingdom is a divided country. And I’m not just referring to the Home Nations. Indeed, there is a north/south divide in England as well as a dissociation between the West Country and the South. Places like Scotland do not feel that the major parties represent them at all and this has led to the increased presence of the Scottish Nationalist Party in those parts. The bottom line is that if parties like Labour and the Conservative party won’t give places like Scotland the time of day in their grand schemes which many voters often feel is London-centric, they will instead vote for a party who instead puts them first. This can have ugly ramifications.
The fact is that the major political parties need to reach out to the general public. They need to be all inclusive. Poor people living in the North West of England couldn’t care less about big tax breaks being given to big business. It also seems that people living in mansions care more about the removal of mansion tax than the reduction of funding for the disabled and mentally impaired. It’s true that over the past few years, we have seen cuts for the unemployed and disabled lead to an increased number of suicides by people who don’t even have the money to feed themselves. Meanwhile, we hear about the government bending over backwards with deals and cuts to multinational businesses to keep them happy. Right now, there isn’t a party who represents or even tries to represent the majority. That is sad. And we are supposed to be living in a democracy.
But it is not just the political system’s fault. The fact is that the political parties don’t feel they need to try because people don’t even pay attention to politics. In fact, politics is considered by many to be boring and unuseful. And the only way that we can, as a democracy, bring about change is by making a stand. It is our democratic duty to participate and it is their duty to listen. People need to think about what they want and how each of the political parties would affect them. They need to have conviction and not just make decisions based on what their family members have voted for in the past. If none of the parties represent you, make it known. Find a party that does. Canvas for them. If you are feeling brave, why not stand yourself? Again, that is your right. The whole deal with Brexit is a prime example of what happens when people don’t know what they are voting for. All they thought about was controlling borders but did they think about how else it would affect us? Hell, it’s a fact that after the EU vote, one of the most prevalent searches performed on google was “what is the EU!?” and “what does leaving the EU mean?” That was AFTER they voted!! Many other people voted to leave purely as a protest vote. That is how dissatisfied with the government they have that they would vote against something just because the government said we should stay. Even though it was at OUR DETRIMEMT.
It’s really quite scary.
We need a change in our political system urgently and people need to stand up and be counted. We need to have our voices heard but we need to make sense and think carefully. We shouldn’t just be after reactions. Be the change you want to be. Be smart. Be sensible.