I love following politics – it is the viewing equivalent, to me at least, of football for other men. I don’t understand how anyone could be fascinated by the ins and outs of a season of professional football, and that is fine. I just don’t tune in. I do see how the big events are interesting – far more so than a mid-season game between two clubs that I only just know exist. A world cup is a mildly interesting thing.
The same applies to politics: the general day-to-day thrum of low level bickering and law making is only really interesting to the people who eat and sleep such things: politicians or political journalists. I am a casual consumer of such entertainment, happy to rely on my favoured pundits; that, I feel, puts me in the same position of a lot of football fans, only in different entertainment formats.
So, in the same way that I understand why football schedules big events at regular intervals, so as to draw in the attention of the casually interested, I now see that politics has a duty to do the same. I am finding British politics quite exciting right now, and it is reminding me of some previous instances of this kind of enthusiasm for change. I love to watch things falling apart, it would seem. Is that odd?
A political party collapsing in front of the eyes of a baying nation is a pretty big and interesting event, surely? And that is what is happening at the moment. I am finding the slow splintering of the Labour and Conservative parties, and the merest hint of gravitational coalescence around The Independent Group, hard to take my dirty eyes off. It is shot through with equal parts hope and perversion.
The true inverse of this striptease act is the hardening stalemate of Brexit. I had such high hopes when the Prime Minister’s deal was rejected by Parliament in the most spectacularly brutal fashion. I had visions of a fresh General Election, of many and various referenda and the potential collapse of Western civilisation itself. I was giddy with the glee of such unfolding political turmoil that I became rather distracted. And then it all went away: that it went without even a whimper disappointed me.
I had watched the formation of the Conservative-LibDem coalition of 2010 with great interest: it was and still is a rare thing in British politics. For the Liberal Democrats to have any relevance. I hoped they would introduce us to an age of vibrant, three party politics. They did not; I was saddened.
Political parties are the largest blot on the political landscape. They force individuals to turn their backs on the communities who voted for them, in order to perpetuate the existence of a tribe. The fact that the political parties have had such a chilling grip around the throat of British politics for so long is baffling to people who do not belong to any of the tribes we have had prescribed to us.
But then, how would we get a government? Surely it’s a convenient tool, a least worst option in a slew of unmitigated swill. True, but human nature has the ability to fuck precisely anything right up.
That said, as the apparent dearth of disagreements on Brexit have shown us, clinging to one’s own heartfelt beliefs can bring the whole political system to a crashing halt, too. If Jeremy Corbyn had only been a Remainer there could have been some explosive mudfights in the Commons. Instead, he took up position in front of many an open goal, and pretended neither the ball or goal were there.
Less committed politicians would have crafted an opposition to the government he so despises just because that is their job, regardless of the fact that they agree with their policies. It’s not easy.
I love the chaos. I love the sound of MPs who have not the faintest clue what is going on, and are just watching the world collapse with the rest of us. It fills me full of hope. Hope for some change.
I spent years voting for the Liberal Democrats because they stood for what I believe in. I think that that’s a great reason to vote. I am neither a tribal Tory nor a tribal Labour voter, so I have never been drawn to either of them. I support my constituency MP as a man of honour and that works.
I have spent many elections wondering who to vote for, but feeling that none of them are a good fit for what I feel. Not any more. If the SNP had run south of the border, I often found myself thinking, I would definitely throw my vote forcibly in their direction: they’re effective, moderate, and they can keep the trains running on time. Far more than the Lib Dems have been able to pull together.
I was temporarily heartened by the chaos thrown up by The Independent Group. They made me hopeful for change. Change is at the heart of my love of chaos in our political system: it fuels fires.
For decades we have told ourselves the lie that a new political party cannot get anywhere, and so a vote their way is a wasted vote. Then Emmanuel Macron came along, formed his own brand new party in France and walked to an easy landslide. Anything is possible if you do the research and find out what the public are willing to vote for. As long as that is what you actually stand for, you’re in.
The Independent Group came about from the People’s Vote movement. Labour and Conservative party members working together, finding they had a lot in common. I like that: bipartisan working is key to the proper functioning of a modern democracy; there is always a middle ground somewhere. Usually within the Lib Dems.
One lot left their party because their zealous former leader wasn’t opposing an idea he supported; the other lot left because their party was becoming overrun by zealots they didn’t support. They met in the centre, with what looked like the kernel of a good idea in their hands: Polls have shown that 53% of voters in the UK would vote for a new centrist party; that is progress.
They were met with a mixture of celebration and contempt: a perfect name for a British theme pub if ever there was one.