Monday, August 06, 2012

The lib dems are in trouble - bring on real 3rd party politics

The failure of the Liberal Democrats to secure Lords Reform is a key political moment of this parliament. This ideological carrot, offered at a the end of a very long political stick of issues many in the party were unhappy to support, has gone rotten before the party got to taste it. If their use of power means they cannot get core legislation passed then it is highly likely their upcoming elections won’t prove enjoyable viewing for the yellow birds of politics.

However, we shouldn’t toast their impending political implosion without realising the consequences. The collapse of a small, yet relatively successful, political party could risk turning the beginnings of a multi-party state, back into a more dull and difficult two-party state.

For if the lib-dems collapse it is an imperative for any third party to step up and fill that gap. The continuing decline in voter turnout makes clear that the general population do not view any of the main political parties as ‘talking their language’, and as consensus breaks over solutions to the economic crisis there is a clear gap for a third party to step up.

The failure of the Liberal Democrats to secure Lords Reform is a key political moment of this parliament. This ideological carrot, offered at a the end of a very long political stick of issues many in the party were unhappy to support, has gone rotten before the party got to taste it. If their use of power means they cannot get core legislation passed then it is highly likely their upcoming elections won’t prove enjoyable viewing for the yellow birds of politics.

However, we shouldn’t toast their impending political implosion without realising the consequences. The collapse of a small, yet relatively successful, political party could risk turning the beginnings of a multi-party state, back into a more dull and difficult two-party state.

For if the lib-dems collapse it is an imperative for any third party to step up and fill that gap. The continuing decline in voter turnout makes clear that the general population do not view any of the main political parties as ‘talking their language’, and as consensus breaks over solutions to the economic crisis there is a clear gap for a third party to step up.

The ability of a third party to set up is difficult. The two main contenders, the Green Party and UKIP have both have very different levels of success and both continue to poll around 5% in public opinion polls. This distance, from less than 5% to electoral success is made even more difficult by the fact that when either of the main two parties get out and campaign they inevitably focus on a variation of that well worn lib dem phrase, only ONE OR OTHER PARTY NAME will win here, deligitmising any other political debate.

This is a dangerous taste of what could come. Throughout history all political parties have contributed to shaping the nation we have today. However the problems of tomorrow are not solved by the solutions of yesterday.  If this is true then we also need some new thinking. However without realising that the time to take alternative arguments is now, then the chance of a lifetime to radically shift political thinking will be missed.

This is a dangerous taste of what could come. Throughout history all political parties have contributed to shaping the nation we have today. The two main political parties have much to offer the situations faced by the country today. However the problems of tomorrow are not solved by a reliance on those who provided the solutions of yesterday.  We still need some new thinking. However without realising that the time to take alternative arguments is now, then the chance of a lifetime to radically shift political thinking will be missed.



PS - Of course it isn't just a 3rd party that is needed, its a 4th, a 5th etc and a wide an active civil society...

2 comments:

  1. andrew smith7:42 pm

    A very good summary of things. Frankly I don't think the Lib Dems will have lost any support over this, because their support is at rock bottom anyway. What this does show is the craven nature of party politcs. The proposed solution was not perfect, but Labour's engagement has been very poor and full of self interest and the same can be said of the Tories.

    Not sure UKIP or Greens can make the step up, not when money is such a big part of politics, and rightly or wrongly both are seen to an extent as single issue partys.

    I think the Lib Dems have been naieve, and now that they're blocking the boundary changes (which they previously supported) it makes you wish that they were tying their opposition to something the public care more about (like NHS reform or student fees). As a final thought, and before we take joy in their departure from the main stage, think about how awful a majority Tory government would be.

    The solution is strong spending limits, reform of tv coverage to ensure party and political balance is real, and PR

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  2. We need something akin to the Reform Movement of a couple of centuries ago, to create real change. Trimming the system about a bit won't fix something as completely broken as the status quo.

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