The Speaker
Thursday, 13 June 2024 – 08:51

Opinion: Time For A Change In UK Politics?

NOTE: This is an opinion article – any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Speaker or any members of its team.

Leaver or Remainer? Tory or Labour? None of it matters! What does matter is the UK is, apparently, sleepwalking towards a ‘no-deal’ Brexit which, according to economists, industrialists and the government’s own impact statements, will be a disaster for the UK. Theresa May, whose hopelessly weak leadership of the Tory Party, itself,  in any case,  split from top to bottom over the question of Europe, seems to have no credible plan as to how to implement Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is equally split on Europe – and a number of other issues – and have, so far, simply nodded through the Tory plans. The Lib-Dems on one side are shouting, perhaps whispering is a better word, to stop Brexit altogether while UKIP are being very vocal in demanding an immediate exit from Europe no matter what the consequences and the DUP just sit there saying “NO” very loudly to everything. Only the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru side with the Lib-Dems in their absolute opposition to Brexit. In the middle of this maelstrom sit the UK public, largely powerless and totally frustrated no matter what their wishes are.

While the Tory government, aided by Labour, lead us towards the metaphorical ‘cliff-edge’ all that we see are political parties whose MP’s are jockeying for position as they wait for the inevitable party leadership contests and General Election – who will manage to clamber over their erstwhile ‘friends’ to climb to the top of their already divided party? In an upside-down political world where Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative member for North East Somerset)  and Frank Field (Labour member for Birkenhead) both seek the same outcome, albeit for different reasons, where does this leave the average UK voter? It leaves them angry and frustrated, in a  no-mans-land where none of the mainstream parties represents them nor, appears, to have any interest in them which is a rare achievement in UK politics.

Various individuals keep bubbling to the surface, Labour’s Keir Starmer tells us that a ‘Peoples Vote’ may be ‘on the table’, Dominic Greave leads a short-lived Tory revolt before caving in and voting against his own amendment,  Lord Adonis has taken to calling himself just plain ‘Andrew’ to prove that he is a man of the people, Chuka Umunna, David Lammy and even Sadiq Khan keep complaining at both Tory and Labour inaction and yet none of them are offering any plan, other than a ‘People’s Vote’, in the hope that it might just save the UK from total self-destruction.

The main issue in the Brexit row is that party leaders, being the type of people that they are, wish to secure a place in history, a legacy, something that the historians will write about in the future. In both May and Corbyn’s case, we have leaders who are driven by ideology and are intent that their place in history will be that they lead the UK out of the European Union rather than the only other alternative which is that they destroyed their respective political parties. Yet this is no real choice, splits go so deep in both parties that it is doubtful that neither May nor Corbyn will remain party leaders after Brexit nor that their respective parties will remain intact. It is time that these old, ‘yesterday’s people’ (including Vince Cable for that matter) put their egos to one side and stand down in favour of some form of unity government lead by a younger generation of politicians who can more easily understand the hopes and dreams of our young people not just over Brexit but a wide range of issues rather than being shackled to old-fashioned and outdated political dogma.

One of the issues is, of course, that to be a Member of Parliament you do not actually have to have any actual ability like you expect when you are drawing a £77,000 a year salary (plus expenses of course) all you have to be is a loyal member of the “Party”. Having become an MP the same party that put you there can easily get rid of you so when you look at your salary hitting the bank account who is going to be first in line to wreck your Party?

Talk of a new centrist party is met with horror from both Tories and Labour amid fears that it will ‘let  the other party into power’ by splitting the Tory or the Labour vote or, just maybe, it will draw in those in the centre of both parties and allow a rainbow coalition that can form a credible foil to the two old-fashioned parties and come up with progressive and innovative policies on Europe, climate change and in other vital areas. May can retire on her husband’s substantial income and go walking in the countryside while Corbyn can carry on tilting at windmills like Don Quixote whilst pottering on his allotment or whatever they want to do, however, in the meantime, some real political effort is put into getting the UK out of the quagmire in which it finds itself.

It has taken too long coming but perhaps Bob Dylan’s words from 1964 should, finally, be heeded:

‘Your old road is rapidly ageing

Please get outta’ the new one if you can’t lend your hand

For the times they are a-changin’

David Hearn is a Post Graduate student at the University of Liverpool

26th August 2018.

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