Thursday, 5 May 2016

Time to challenge the divisive values of party politics

Winners take all?
How the UK is divided by the party system.
Allegations that the Tories stole the last election by cheating on their spending are far more than a storm in an over-heated social media teacup. They point to an overweaning sense of entitlement in a system that disproportionately favours the big parties. The Conservatives, as the richest party, feel the most entitled, and their dismissal of the cheating claim as an "administrative oversight" suggests that they see rules as an irritation to be brushed off rather than an attempt to level an ever more uneven playing field.

Today is polling day. some people, in Scotland, Wales, London and elsewhere, have important decisions to make. Me - I get to vote for a Police and Crime Commissioner and my first instinct is not to bother, but then I'm reminded that alongside candidates from the main parties is an independent who looks like they know what they're doing. Here's a chance to challenge the system, and with turnout expected to be low my vote could make a difference.

Party politics is divisive and sectarian. Conservatives for those of us well served by the status quo. Labour for those of us in paid work, seeking a bigger share of the cake. Lib Dems? Hard to say any more (although hard-right "neo-liberals" have given the l-word a bad name). Greens for those of us worried about the environment. UKIP for those of us who feel dispossessed. However you look at it the entire system is designed to set people in opposition to one another, as if their interests as human beings are not essentially the same.

Trust in politics has rarely been lower, but to change things we have somehow to participate in the system, however rotten it may be. News that the proposed trans-Atlantic corporate takeover called TTIP may finally have been seen off shows that popular political action can be effective, as campaigns on tax credits, animal welfare and child refugees have also shown. But single issue campaigns, however much of a struggle, are always easier that systemic transformation.

The key to that transformation is to rethink our values. For so long as wealth and money are equated, the system will always seek to divide and rule. If we wish to challenge that assumption we need a new economic model - one dedicated to human wellbeing, in which value is measured not in money or numbers, but in the quality of our relationships, our collaboration and sharing, our sense of fulfillment, our health and, above all, our capacity to care for ourselves, each other and our natural environment.


Picture credit: By Brythones, recoloured by Cryptographic.2014 (This file was derived from:  2010UKElectionMap.svg) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


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