So we approach a snap general Election in the U.K., regardless of the opportunistic nature of the Prime ministers decision to call the election, the parties campaigns are off and running and the full force of the theory of ‘valance party politics’ is showing its face in the U.K democratic system again.
We have a fused executive here in the U.K, our leader will be the party leader of the winning ‘first past the post’ party. So we see stories of a huge tory win because no one will vote for Labour because of Corbyn’s leadership. Mrs May is over using the expression ‘strong and stable’ and even suggested the concept that a win for her party is an endorsement of her position as leader ( but some how without the conviction of Lady Thatcher, after all we would not want to see a second ‘conviction’ tory prime minister, would we?). So we will all vote for our local candidate, who should represent our local interests under the social contract, however we will all vote knowing that our vote has a direct influence on the leadership of the executive who will control our local candidate.
We even see the suggestion of tactical voting in area’s of the country. Can we really accept the idea that we would vote for someone we do not believe is the best to represent use, just so that we can unseat another candidate we disapprove of? I really struggle with tactical voting, to do this is an act of using suffrage to elect some one who we do not believe will best represent us under the social contract. This seems to be a completely negative use of suffrage, in fact I would consider it ‘valance politics’ actually harming our right of suffrage. I struggle to think of another situation that goes against the concept of the ‘social contract’ more.
Do we have to accept this situation, it is after all one of the defining characteristics of our majoritarian, unitary system. We have been accepting this for our life times, and the life times of those before us. We have one of the oldest democratic systems in the world, with a constitution, even if it is uncodified, that is centuries’ old. To see our democratic system reduced to tactical voting and valance politics harming the core concept of the social contract is very disheartening.
With this background of leadership, we live in a political system where the leadership reward their colleagues with stewardship of the great institutions of state, knowledge and experience is often put aside for the concept of rewarding loyal colleagues with promotion into running bigger and more vital institutions. I find this very concerning when we consider that these are well respected institutions that are now decades old. The appointed leader of these institutions often find themselves in conflicted political positions and often have to make decisions that go against the best interests of the organisation’s they lead. The great offices of state and the organisations they control are, perhaps, the closest extensions of the social contract that citizens have outside the act of voting in elections. So is it reasonable to expect that the offices of state and the organisations they control should be respected and treated as above the influence of valance politics and the whims of political leadership? I would say so, the vital influence of leadership in organisations in well known, and in that context we are considering organisations that are institutions that are vital to society and the citizens relationship with the state.
Just to stress this point again, as a citizen I would affirm that our relationship with the organisations of the offices of state are more vital to the social contract than the political leadership we elect. This might be considered a back to front way to view the social contract, but I think it is reasonable to do so. The organisations are primary, the are institutions and they are the pillars of society, the political leadership of them is not, the leadership is transitory, fickle and often conflicted.
We have lived with this system for lifetimes now, perhaps it is time to look at different options? Especially at this time of a snap general election, with all the tired debate about leadership, ideological conflict and the fall in voting turnout and electoral apathy.
The concept of failing ideology was described Francis Fukuyama in his work ‘the end of history’. an interesting work which considered that liberal and democratic ideology have won on a global level and so have become homogenised and stagnant. So perhaps it is time to consider that the stagnation of the political process has set in and all parties have moved towards a blurred and often converging political ideology, we have many examples of the different parties reusing policies put forward by others. So the whole contestation of political ideology becomes blurred, flattened and muddled. The days of political parties and leaders taking firm ideological positions are behind us. All policy and ideological direction is mutable and I would suggest focuses on winning a short term advantage for the politicians themselves, rather than the wider good of the citizens they represent.
So do we in the U.K have any other options, well in this 2017 snap election, it would painfully appear, not. However in other globalised democratic systems the citizens do. Centrism is established in other political systems across the globe, the Canadian have a centrist movement and the French have just embarked on Centrism with the election of their new president.
Centrism is an interesting concept, here in the U.K we do have the beginnings of a centrist movement, you can look at their manifesto and policy plans here:
You might notice that the U.K centrist movement does not want to have an ideology. If we accept Fukuyama’s idea that ideology is in decay then a political option that does not hold ideology at it’s core must surely be relevant and a option for the future.
I mentioned the great offices of state and the organisation’s they steward. The U.K centrist movement holds a very different perspective towards those institutions. They identify 13 vital offices of state they have the most direct impact on the social contract with citizens. The Centrists aspire to enable those organisations by providing them with the best qualified and consistent leadership (where ever they are sourced) to enable them and the civil servants who work within them to best direct them and change them to best serve the citizens they serve, rather than the political leaders they currently are entrusted too.
I think the whole concept is very interesting, very insightful and very much more suited to the post ideological global age we live in. The whole Centrist UK organisation is still in its infancy, with no plans to try and intervene in the 2017 snap election. However as a prospect for future elections, they represent a viable option for much needed change to the U.K’s ailing, often counter productive and stagnant political situation.
I do urge you to visit the website and read through the manifesto, you can join the Centrist UK movement by email and hopefully you will find their propositions refreshing and relevant to the future politics of the U.K