Personally Speaking: No better time to break free of ‘normal’ politics – Fred Hughes



I can’t believe how much has happened to our so-called ‘normal’ way of life in such a short period of time. Aside from the obvious pandemic crisis, I’m referring of course to politics, and specifically party politics.

In the course of a few months the country, including old Labour strongholds, has pointedly elected a hefty Conservative House of Commons majority with a new right wing leaning Prime Minister, while Labour has discarded its left wing guiding principles to favour middle course centricity.

And what looked to be Liberal resurgence has been destroyed with the unanticipated loss of its over-confident leader, all this after four years of division, anger and confusion.

It hardly feels like four years since the UK emerged from the 2016 referendum with a result that shocked most UK and EU citizens as the electorate painfully tore away the sticking plaster from a decade of festering social and economic exertion.

And who’d have predicted that within a year after the referendum an over-confident Prime Minister, Theresa May, would surrender a perfectly reasonable Conservative majority to needlessly secure further power? Then again who’d have guessed that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party would increase its tally by 31 seats? Politics, you could say, was all over the place!

Strange things have been happening in the topsy-turvy land of politics. Take for instance last year’s local election when Conservatives took control of Stoke-on-Trent for the first time in 50 years, albeit with the support of a small Conservative-leaning Independent group. Without raking over the reasons again, it was certainly clear that the local Conservative team had conducted a well-organised campaign based on effective on-the-ground communication by targeting what were considered winnable seats, even though I am personally convinced that some of the wards won weren’t truly expected!

A few months after this we had the second general election with a new Conservative Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who unpredictably secured a fat House of Commons majority pledging to complete Brexit and a promise to honour the astonishing support of traditional Labour voting constituencies.

A humiliated Jeremy Corbyn left quietly. And a moderate Labour leader, Keir Starmer, even more quietly took over.

With all these upside down results 2020 seemed to be knocking at the door to a different political era – exciting yes; perhaps not revolutionary, but it does seem to herald something new.

So what do new politics hold for us once we get back to normal? Well the first thing I hope for is that we don’t get back to what ‘normal’ was.

That ‘normal’ gave us the transmission of customs and beliefs from generation to generation, with old traditions being passed on as a matter of course. It meant following a pattern that resulted in disengagement for a proportion of shadow land citizens who were left with no clear form of political representation.

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For the first time in a generation the old industrial communities voted for the politics of change. The elected Conservative government now has an opportunity to process this.

There is plenty of evidence that party division and political ideology is narrowing. And if the promises of Boris Johnson, to embrace the former Labour regions with more creative and beneficial economic and social welfare reforms are honoured, the gap between all levels of societal distinction will at the very least be addressed.

This is not a Utopian view. It is a socialist precept to achieving a fair and equal state, something that has been missing in the confusion of opportunist-grabbing party politics.

Democracy of course needs governance. But more than anything it needs broad and inclusive governance, and strategy that overlay the politics of division.

What an opportunity this is for all sides to break the chains of domination and coercion! And what better time than now to grasp the opportunity to break away from the days of being ‘normal!’





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