I don’t think I’ve ever felt as miserable or uncertain about British politics as I do now. I feel suffocated. Trapped between the Church Of The Latter Day Mandate screaming about the will of the people, and those who drench themselves in EU paraphernalia and chant about stopping Brexit.
The prorogation of Parliament is a prime example of how everything is falling apart. At most we are going to miss 8 days of parliamentary debating time. However, the idea that the anti-no-deal crowd were going to be able to do anything in those eight days, that they haven’t done in the past year, is lunacy. The suspension is a cynical move by Dominic Cummings to provoke a reaction amongst the Remain camp; they have indulged him in spades. If we are to have the Brexit election that is much talked about, then it will be the Executive pitting “the will of the people” against Parliament. This would be a disgrace to our constitutional settlement. I personally want to leave the EU, it is an affront to my neoliberal values, but to do so in this manner would be to throw away accountability. We cannot allow the Government to create a climate of fear that prevents MPs from feeling able to scrutinise the actions of the Government.
This does not, however, let the pro-EU crowd off the hook; they are just as culpable for the current mess. They have spent the past 3 years saying that a hard Brexit would be a contradiction to the tight result of the Referendum. They say that Brexiteers need to compromise, whilst not being prepared to compromise themselves. They don’t seem to see that they are adopting all that they hate about the opposing side. They are making out that the EU is some sort of magical institution of hopes and dreams. Most ordinary Remain voters I know do not share this view, they accept that the EU, like most institutions, is flawed.
Brexit is not a magic bullet. Once it is over our parties will continue to stoke hate and fear to achieve their goals. The people will feel no more in control of their lives and no more capable of holding their politicians to account. The only way we can achieve these two goals is a fundamental change to our electoral system. We need a form of proportional representation. Only then will we be able to have parties that accurately reflect both the views of their members and offer a real choice for voters. No longer will neoliberals have to pretend to be nationalists, nor will social democrats have to pander to socialists.
Of course, it is often said that our parties being broad churches is a positive that achieves collaboration between different ideological viewpoints. A change to the electoral system would still enable compromise and agreement between different viewpoints. Unlike the current system, this would enable formal coalitions to be built upon honest beliefs and not artificial agreement compressed into one party and primed to explode at times of national crisis.
Our current system rewards hoarding power and demonising the opposition – this is neither constructive, nor is it effective. Therefore I will no longer play a part in it; I am no longer going to pretend that our system works when it is clear that it does not. I am no longer going to be forced into capitulating to those I fundamentally disagree with in the name of party unity. Standing side by side with people who think they have a monopoly on the right way of doing things no longer feels like an option. Our parties need to split, all of them, and as long as ordinary people like me indulge these ineffectual structures they will continue. Our system is turning good, principled, and kind people, into inflexible monsters. I don’t want to be a monster anymore.