Agree with them or not, no one could doubt that they all speak their own words or that they all passionately believe in what they say. And they do say what they believe in. Very loudly.
For every other politician it’s business as usual: ‘We can’t think of anything original to say, so let’s instead demolish what everyone else says.’
This may provide that nice, warm feeling – like relieving yourself down the inside of your trouser leg but, even assuming that it manages to put us off voting for the new opponent, what then? Who do we back now? We have no idea what the old guard stands for, they’ve been too busy wasting every wake hour rubbishing their new opponents to tell us. In any event, their rhetoric is likely to consist of a bunch of unconvincing, robotic clichés involving ‘hard-working-families-who-do-the-right-thing’.
Now, by and large, politicians are not especially intellectually challenged, and they must each want to be the one with the winning formula, so what’s going on here?
This is going on: Westminster Village People have forgotten the end game: the ballot box. Like forgetting that you’re breathing or that your heart beats. You don’t have to remember, it just happens. With just two political parties (+ a vestigial curiosity on the side), the FPTP voting system sees to it that British parliamentarians never have to worry about Victor Voter. Buggins’ turn government hands power to Conservatives and Labour on a strict rota basis. Like the water in the sea, it’s the natural ebb and flow of things.
But nothing lasts forever and it seems that proper representative democracy, as practiced throughout the western world, is finally lapping at Anglo-Saxon shores, challenging what can best be described as an ‘elected duopoly’.
Our modern world view is ever more nuanced and our political focus ever more narrowly tuned. A broad Tory church or a solid Labour chapel are so last century. We want to see our very own selves clearly reflected in the political party we vote for. And shock horror, there are more than two types of people in Blighty.
The fact is that neither Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall nor anyone else, will be able to cram their lumbering Labour camel through the eye of the ballot needle. It simply won’t fit! Why, even ‘new’ kid on the block Jez is going to struggle.
In today’s political world, small and bespoke is beautiful, as witnessed last May 7 by the electoral success of the SNP, The Green Party, UKIP, Plaid Cymru et al. Shame that the UK voting system didn’t reflect the 33% of votes cast for such smaller parties.
Little wonder that just 2/3 of a despondent UK electorate turned out to vote, and of those, 1 in 3 voted for a smaller party. And still, the Conservative Party scooped half the seats with just a third of the votes. Clearly a crap result, democratically speaking.
So, what would Borgen Do?
Well, if the likes of Jeremy Corbyn were operating out of Copenhagen, he’d simply set up a new party that reflected his politics exactly. So long as twenty thousand Danes signed up to support him, he could stand candidates in the next general election. Under Borgen’s system of proportional representation, he’d be assured of a fair result, where every vote really does count. In the UK, only a large bucketful of votes actually mean anything. Those in the marginal seats.
A recent example of such an event is Borgen’s ex Social Democratic Minister of Culture Uffe Elbæk, who two years ago fell out with his boss Helle Thorning Schmidt – she of the Obama selfie. Elbæk is a progressive type and, as such, was after a whole new and different type of politics. Following some nifty organising, the aptly named Alternativet party was born and soon busy printing placards for the general election earlier this year.
Alternativet achieved 4.8% of the Danish vote and nine Alternativet representatives now sit in Parliament at Borgen, Elbæk included. Compare that to the performance by The Green Party of England and Wales who garnered 3.8% of the UK vote and has just 1 MP at Westminster.
In all, Borgen’s 179 MPs consist of representatives from 13 parties – a list that frankly reads a bit like the ‘People’s Front’ sketch from Monty Python. But hey, the system clearly works a treat, so who are we to mock? Let’s face it, Borgen’s consensus government knocks spots off the sort of infantile Yah Boo politics we are forced to endure every Wednesday at what’s called Prime Minister’s Questions. If only this unedifying spectacle provided some Prime Minister’s Answers, it might not be such an embarrassing waste of space. But it doesn’t. And it is.
The good news is that the answer is pretty straightforward: The Tory and Labour Party need to split, we need a new voting system that provides the rest of our political parties with their rightful place at the top table and we need to get rid of the largest unelected legislative chamber outside the People’s Republic of China, the totally bizarre House of Lords.
Only then will every vote count and the UK can start calling itself a true democracy.