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Three Days After the Brexit Vote, Our Political System Is in Crisis - We Need to Start Afresh

27/06/2016 16:23 | Updated 27 June 2016

Like lots of people who voted remain, and seemingly quite a few who voted leave, I'm nervous about the consequences of Brexit.

I'm worried about heading into another recession after things had just started to look better. I'm worried about when, if ever, I'll own a home, and about my rights at work.

But I'll leave that to one side for now. I want to ask a different question: since the referendum, what the hell has happened to our political party system?

Look at Labour. At the time of writing, a Labour coup is dominating the headlines. Calls for Corbyn to resign are based on a serious concern - under his leadership, huge swathes of Labour voters went in the opposite direction from the views of him and most of his MPs. But they're also opportunistic - we know the Labour party is divided at the moment. Corbyn is, ironically, a Thatcher figure. Labour members and supporters either think he's the promised Messiah who's saved the Labour Party by restoring its core purpose, or that he'll damage it irreversibly and keep Labour out of power for a generation.

But Labour isn't the only party in disarray. Brexit and the campaigns leading up to it clearly showed how divided the Conservative Party is. To have senior cabinet members and the Prime Minister throwing accusations at one another was frankly embarrassing.

Then there's UKIP. Yes, it had a unifying purpose - but it's now achieved that, and not without creating a mess. Farage running for Parliament, stepping down as leader and stepping up again; Carswell and Farage backing different campaigns - it's hardly a picture of stability.

The only "major" party that isn't seriously divided is the Lib Dems. But with eight seats in the Commons, being united doesn't go very far.

Most importantly, at the heart of this mess are millions of people who don't know where to turn. There are progressive Europhile conservatives who'll now have to live with conservative leadership, and if someone like Chris Grayling ends up at or near the top of the party, those who'd consider themselves compassionate conservatives won't feel particularly at home.

Then there are those in Labour's heartlands who voted to leave the EU, against the consensus of the vast majority of the party's MPs. Many from working class communities feel that Labour no longer speaks for them.

So we have Conservatives who are too progressive for the Conservative party; Labour voters who are too eurosceptic for the Labour Party; and a Labour Party that's too left-wing for many of its members and supporters - not to mention the rest of the electorate.

The outlook under our current system looks bleak. None of our current parties are fit for purpose, nor can they justify the millions of pounds donated to them by voters and financial backers. But there can be a way forward.

Firstly, all of the major parties need to be dissolved. I realise that couldn't happen all at once - it would probably be gradual and take several years.

Secondly we need to reframe the three-party system. The principle of two major parties, with a third party to influence policy, seems perfectly sensible and has historically been shown to be effective. The three new parties would look something like this:

A truly conservative conservative party: this would unite many Conservatives, and ex-UKIP voters and members who were opposed to the EU and wanted more conservative policies on immigration and other social issues. It would stop all the griping from conservative backbenchers about their leadership being too progressive. They'd agree that Brexit was a good thing and pursue conservative economic policy.

A progressive, left-of-centre party: this may be the tricky part - it requires progressive conservatives and moderate Labourites to join forces. But over time, it's become harder and harder to see what distinguishes a moderate Labour voter from a one-nation Tory anyway. Maybe it's time to stop being tribal and accept they have more in common than they're comfortable admitting. Ex-Lib Dems would also be part of this party. Crucially, they'd all have to work hard to bring working class voters into the fold: but they'd do this through encouraging aspiration, creating opportunities, and investing in infrastructure.

A hard left party: this would give a place for Corbynistas and Greens to unite, fighting for socialism, and influencing and tempering government policy.. I've yet to hear anyone explain the differences between these two anyway.

Many will dismiss these ideas, I'm sure. In particular, Corbynistas will resent me for putting them into the protest party category. But a Labour party led by Corbyn has no more chance of being in government than the Greens right now - and many who voted for Corbyn have themselves said they're not interested in governing anyway: it's their socialist principles that matter.

Plus, disclaimer alert - I'm not a political expert. I don't know how practically feasible this is. But something needs to change, and with a system like this, I believe it's possible to re-engage voters and create a framework in which politicians truly represent the views of the people they serve.

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