Adversarial Politics is Killing the Progressives

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Progressive parties are damaging their own interests by splitting the left field. Meanwhile the Conservatives have learned and have lunged right to effectively absorb UKIP, giving themselves a clear right field. I am ever hopeful, particularly if more younger folk vote. However, while progressive parties continue competing with each other, I fear the out-dated first-past-the-post electoral system at GE17 will stymie progressive forces. Gone are the days of voting for the candidate who most closely shares your values. Tactics are making politics very complicated – although there is help.

The Greens in both England and Scotland have offered deals where they don’t stand a candidate to give more chance to the most popular progressive candidate per constituency.

For example, in Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale at GE15, the total number of votes cast for progressive candidates exceeded those cast for the Conservative. However, since those progressive votes were split between parties, the Conservative candidate became Scotland’s only Tory MP. This year the Greens are not contesting.

“The idea of a progressive alliance has seen the Liberal Democrats decide to not contest Lucas’s Brighton Pavilion seat, and the Greens in turn stepping aside in an adjoining constituency. While the Greens have opted not to fight the Labour marginal of Ealing Central and Acton, there has as yet been no reciprocity from Labour.”

Surely it’s part of the progressive ethos to form partnerships and recognise commendable efforts, whoever makes them?

The SNP has proposed an ‘issue-by-issue’ progressive alliance in the ‘unlikely’ event of a hung parliament, but Labour is simply refuting any such cooperation. Perhaps they’re still smarting from GE15 when Tory scaremongering about the SNP enabling a minority Labour government seemed to help the Tories to a surprise majority victory, in a wild discrepancy from polls.

But LibDems and Labour are reluctant to change their old, tired, adversarial politics. You’re not a good leader unless you’re bashing the opposition – even the opposition that shares many of your values. Are we really only impressed by bared teeth and dripping claws? Would we not rather see all that energy and talent put into partnership? Into finding creative solutions to our hugely challenging issues?

The non-SNP are also very good at throwing the word ‘divisive’ about, as a rejection of a second Scottish independence referendum – indyref2. I see every election campaign dividing people. Fomenting hate of the ‘other’ with extreme language and rabid rhetoric. Is bile the quality we most want in our leaders?

“Most [Europeans] are fed up with traditional political parties and their time-honoured left-right divide, especially on economic issues.”

Dear English neighbours, please show me some hope for progressive politics. We need progressive action to protect and improve our social and environmental rights, to evolve our democracy and fix our broken economy. Otherwise, sadly, I’m increasingly pro-independence; an alliance is only as strong as the shared values on which it is based, and ours are rapidly eroding.

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