Campaign for a Free Parliament
4th Floor, Rex House, 4-12 Regent Street
London SW1Y 4RG
Tel: 0843 886 0020
Letter sent to all political commentators
13 December 2016
A few short months ago Hillary Clinton was destined to become the first female president of the USA, the EU referendum would be in favour of Remain and the main UK party of the 20th Century was on course to continue its dominance well into the 21st. So far the only survivor is the Tory party but for how much longer? Given that the biggest single party now in the UK is ‘none of the above’ can our political system survive in its present format – or more to the point perhaps, why on earth would we want it to?
Political parties and movements promote conflicting ideologies. These groups range from centre ground mainstream parties, cynically trimming their policies to maximise their votes, to more extreme movements such as Trotskyists and neo-Fascists. So far the centre has prevailed but has only succeeded in managing decline.
Faced with worsening personal circumstances and turned off by constant mud-slinging, voters have become alienated. Many do not vote anymore or vote for what they regard as the least bad option. As a result, the Conservative Party is in power with the support of just 24% of the electorate, the Scottish National Party with 26%. Three quarters of the people have not voted for the government of the day, a pattern repeated in other democracies. This is plainly unsustainable.
Educated people are perfectly capable of living within a pragmatic and democratic society without engaging in constant disputes with their neighbours. Political tribalism only endures because the electorate has so far lacked a viable, non-tribal option to vote for. The grip of the parties, aided by the media is too well-established. What most people want is an effective, consensus-led administration, rather than getting caught in a never-ending power struggle between warring factions.
What is so different about our needs and aspirations that we require different political parties to represent us in any event? Most people look for security, a roof over their head, a proper education for their children, access to healthcare, employment and perhaps even the opportunity to better themselves. In other words, precisely what is supposedly on offer from all the major parties. It took a child to point out that the king had no clothes and any child could now tell us that, heads or tails, we’re going to lose whatever side we pick.
Political parties sow dissent to gain power as their success depends on them splitting the electorate into competing camps. The only way to end this ruinous process is to get rid of political parties altogether. We have tested adversarial politics to destruction and must now create a new system whereby our representatives seek consensus rather than conflict. A revolution is sweeping through the Western hemisphere as electorates reject the parties that have failed them, we must ensure what follows is better, moderate and robust.
The establishment will resist any challenge to its stranglehold and the media, dependent on never-ending political intrigue for copy, will defend it. But the ramparts have now been breached and Donald Trump has changed the game out of all recognition. Trump may be anathema to many but he is no extremist. However, many of those now appearing from both ends of the political spectrum are far from innocent. We have a clear choice: we either reform our political system so that it becomes fit for purpose, or we stay with the status quo and give the extremists an open goal.
We could of course form a new political party. A party that would listen to voters, use the internet to involve its supporters, be more responsible with our money and promote localism. Indeed concessions along these lines are already being mooted, albeit grudgingly, by the elite. However, unless we are prepared to accept a single party totalitarian state, that idea cannot succeed. Just as people adapt to changing circumstances, so do parties, especially ones that suffer a major setback. After our ‘good’ party had enjoyed a brief honeymoon, realpolitik would reassert itself, the electorate would be again offered bribes for votes and the vicious circle would return with a vengeance.
The electorate can end this charade by refusing to vote for party candidates and flood parliament with independent MPs instead. Once the House of Commons is freed from the stranglehold of parties, it will function properly and work for us rather than against us. To ensure that MPs do not form cabals to overcome fair debate, simple rules can be adapted from the outside world. As for the ideologues; leave them to fight it out amongst themselves in smoke-filled backrooms, the rest of us have lives to lead.
I hope that you have found this note of interest and a full list of our proposals to reform the UK’s political system is on our website www.freeparliament.org.uk. We would welcome an early opportunity to meet and explain our ideas in more detail, as well as getting your valued feedback.