Why extreme partisanship is bad for politics

Alastair Thompson August 31, 2017 0
Why extreme partisanship is bad for politics

“What is politics?” may seem like a fairly simple question, after all, it is a question of just three words, yet it seems undeniable that even amongst those who read this piece a vast degree of varying views will be raised, and these may often clash. In recent times we have seen a vast raise in a partisan viewpoint, something that politicians may have once laughed at for occurring in the US, but now seems far more common today here in our very own UK, with even MPs such as Laura Pidcock now referring to other politicians as “The enemy.”

Yet I wish to present to you now a differing view, which terminology comes again from across the pond, the concept that government, and politics itself, is “For the people, by the people.” After all, we can see this terminology proved true by just our electoral system alone; politicians work for the people, implementing policies which they often fight and commit years towards and stand on prior to elections; by the grace of the people, through electoral systems and the legitimacy that they provide.

Momentum supporters outside Parliament

This system, throughout the last century alone, has led to the UK becoming one of the pinnacles of progress, with the key parties working together through collaboration to achieve feats such as the NHS and equality legislation. Steady, permanent cultural progress has seemed to occur under almost every successive government which has acted to truly bring the best out of people working in politics, for those people who do not; whilst the scrutiny provided by a strong, yet reasonable, opposition tends to lead to optimization and clear, concise laws.

Yet once we throw this aside, once we truly act only in our viewpoint alone we begin to lose that which has made this nation great. When previously we had a vast array of minds working together to benefit all, even when opposing each other, we instead gain a culture of spite, a culture in which we have an opposition that does not scrutinize to ensure the best for all but instead do so due to hate and to repress.

This growth of extreme partisanship is what has led to again a slow, but steady, tragedy in politics, whereby people are indoctrinated to oppose the other party, with a form of venom that even snakes might desire, and over time we see this turns into the true belief of not just individuals, but that of towns, of even cities, leading to safe-seats and councils.

And safe-seats are truly a catastrophe to democracy, not only are MPs and councils less likely to work, and campaign, with such vigor, but also the caliber of their work may in turn be hurt. In turn the people who truly support their party may receive less from them due to granting too strong a mandate. In support of this I bring forward one harsh, but undeniable trend, which is that of grooming gangs occurring in cities where the council is less scrutinized due to a weak opposition. These names are likely well heard of to those who have heard of grooming scandals; Rochdale, Rotherham and Newcastle, and all three are considered ‘safe’ councils and even after these scandals Labour control 48/60, 48/63 and 55/78 of the respective council seats. To suggest that crimes may certainly have not occurred with stronger scrutiny from council based opposition is wrong, yet as shown by the repeated failings of the Rotherham Council, further opposition and in turn scrutiny would likely not go amiss and could be only beneficial.

It seems apparent that to truly regain the best of our political system we need not only to cool tensions between those on the left and on the right, but we also need to shatter those councils and seats that have become ‘safe’ on all sides. To do these acts we need to return to the ways of the past, were politicians and activists acted not by fighting against those who oppose each other and repressing those in these ‘safe’ seats, but instead acted through open and fair debate. A return to this type of politics is likely to lead to more balance as individuals start to embrace views that may not be the norm in their hometown which in the long run could benefit those who may least expect it.

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