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Are party politics on their way out?

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
This was brought up in Question Time last week. Basically, membership of all the large parties is down significantly - with the tories probably the worst hit with a halving in membership [Source, first link in google].

The argument was that in the race to be 'professional politicians' where policy isn't led by an emotional, holistic feeling of what is right, it's led by political analysts who tell their bosses whats likely to get the most votes. The inevitable conclusion of this is a convergence towards the centre, because thats what polling says is the most widely acceptable points, and a lack of distinguishing features between the parties.

Indeed on the right a growing movement towards UKIP who I don't even think are 'crazy far right', but just centre-right really because of the Conservatives trying to fight for the New-Labour centre-centre seat. On the left, massive dissillusionment with Labour and the real question: who actually represents the left these days? The tech/sciphobic green party? The 'little bit rapey' SWP party? (Sorry about that :D)

So with so little difference between the parties, with so little 'substance' on which they plant their feed, with every decision being the result not of heart and mind, but simply a room full of polling analysts - are political parties even necessary anymore? What do they do, other than promote their own interests?

George Galloway typically said the parties are on their way out because they're not relevant to anyone and completely out of touch - to loud applause - but he would say that, wouldn't he?


  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    He said that as the leader of a political party.

    Generally, no I don't think they are on the way out but they will need to rein in their activities to meet their income. That said, it also creates fertile ground for business and unions to fund a greater level and therefore to get greater concessions... dangerous ground
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    George Galloway would be only too happy to see the main three implode. If anyone stands to gain from the parties collapsing, its outspoken individuals like himself. As long as the main parties remain centrepiece, they will maintain the status quo, which is currently well, pretty uninspiring.

    They made the point on the show that voters, if anything, are more political than they ever have been. Twitter, facebook, online groups and so on provide a brilliant means to discuss, inform and mobilise on political tasks. You would imagine that would bring a more dynamic politic to Westminster. If anything the opposite has happened - the last thing I want is where the parties give up arguing over any tangible differences and it just turns into a punch and judy show for ratings a la USA.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I don't think political parties will end anytime soon. Unless you have the time to do in-depth research on every candidate you need broad groupings who you know stand for a certain view, even if it's imperfect (and will become more so if coalition Govt becomes the norm).

    What may be happening though is that voters are becoming less tribal, perhaps because all the parties are within a fairly narrow central ground. People are less voting for an ideology (that's been settled as a moderate right of centre mixed economy, which mixes free markets with regulation and heavy state intervention in areas such as health and education where people think the private sector doesn't deliver well), but for who manages better.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    As fewer people engage with political parties, they become ever more reliant on donations from a small cabal of wealthy people. These people often donate to all sides to ensure that their view is listened to. This moves political parties further away from the public, again causing them to become reliant on a handful of wealthy backers.

    It's a very dangerous spiral. We're seeing the effects of that now where Labour and the Conservatives are basically just bickering about who's better at giving the poor and vulnerable a jolly good rogering.
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