Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Whom the gods would destroy

There are two British political parties which seem to be doing their best to destroy themselves, reminding me of the saying below which is usually attributed to Euripides (though see here for what appears to be the actual origin of the expression:)

The Copeland by-election has highlighted how Labour's current leadership is making a position which would have been a difficult challenge for the most competent leader far worse, but UKIP too seem determined to destroy themselves.

Had UKIP not managed to damage themselves with unforced errors over the address of their leader and candidate in Stoke Central and with the mess they got into with comments about the Hillsborough tragedy, I believe there is a good chance that they could have won the Stoke by-election and a certainty that they would have come closer.

Now we see ridiculous rows over whether their one MP, Douglas Carswell, blocked a knighthood for their former leader Nigel Farage, while at the same time, Farage argues in the Telegraph that Carswell has to go.

Meanwhile another key UKIP figure and donor, Aron Banks has been demanding to be made party chairman and threatening to walk if he is not: he has also threatened to stand against Carswell at the next general election.

Obviously I am not a fan of UKIP but I am not convinced this is healthy for British democracy.

To function properly our existing system of democracy needs a credible opposition, whose main job is to ensure that there is a credible choice of alternative governments.

Jeremy Corbyn is not performing that task, and somebody needs to. If it had been run any more competently than Labour, UKIP might have had a chance, but they are well on the way to blowing it, and getting into ridiculous rows over gongs could not be more perfectly designed to make them look out of touch.

Regardless of who is responsible for it, getting into the position where the best known members of the party are trying to expel or defeat the only person who has ever been elected as an MP at a general election under UKIP's banner is beyond ridiculous. It would never be allowed to happen in an body which credibly aspires to be more like an effective political party than a chimp's tea party.

Tim Farron's Lib/Dems are pursuing a strategy - rebuilding their political base at the local council level while aspiring to speak for the minority of voters who not just voted "Remain" but are not truly reconciled to the fact that "Leave" won - which is far better suited to a slow but steady recovery from their disastrous electoral showing between breaking the tuition fees promise and the 2015 election, than it is to making a serious challenge for power. At least they have a strategy which is not entirely insane and is being executed with a degree of competence but it's not going to make them a credible alternative government by 2020.

The way things are going, and unless a completely new political movement emerges or one of the existing opposition parties sorts themselves out, the next time the electorate get a serious choice between two credible contenders for the government of the UK will be in 2025 or 2030 and it will be between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

God help us all if anything goes seriously wrong for the country before then.


Jim said...

And there you have it, you got it. There is no need to enter a defunct system and "reform it from the inside"

the answer is more to stand back let it destroy itself, and be there to take its place. The more people you have standing ready the better.

we learning yet?

Chris Whiteside said...

I think you need to do more than publish a plan, no matter how good it is, then wait for the existing system to collapse and expect that your plan will then be adopted.

Brits are remarkably good at muddling through: if you want the Harrogate Agenda to actually happen you need to either persuade one or more of the existing parties to adopt it, or set up a new party to campaign for it.