How many political parties?

Image thanks to VoxPoliticalOnline

I hear it said so many times that we live in a two party system. This is clearly not so as there are nearly a dozen parties represented in parliament. It is the case however, for many of us our choice of politicians is very limited. For large swathes of the country, should you wish to get the government out then you have to hold your nose and vote for the opposition. The perceived view is that if you don’t want the Conservatives then you have to vote Labour and vice versa.

Yet wait! What has been clear from the shenanigans over the selection of the new leader of the Conservatives and ultimately the new Prime Minister is that there is not one Tory party. Throughout the debates each candidate went out of their way to slag off the government they had been part of and which had been in power for the last twelve years. It was as if they were living in a parallel universe.

The Conservative party is not one party. Now that they are down to the final two contestants it is obvious that they have conflicting opinions as to what being a conservative means. Each wannabe PM is also being held to account by the euphemistically named European Research Group, a subset of Conservative MPs with the aim of ensuring the right wing purity of the party. The Conservative Party,  therefore, is a broad church of opinion with at least three major groupings, or three parties within a party.

Labour is no better. As an outsider it seems that the party is in a constant internal battle between the left and centrist, some would say, right of the party. The Corbynites, including Momentum if my understanding is correct, are at loggerheads with Stamer’s side of the party, accusing them of being Tory stooges and not representative of the Labour Party’s roots. So the Labour Party is also a broad church of opinion and has always had its fights in public. The Conservatives, however, normally keep their spats behind closed doors.

Come the next election you may wish to vote Conservative or Labour. The problem is that, even if your choice gets over the line, you will have no idea what party you will actually end up with. This is another downside of our abhorrent first past the post system.

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