King Edward VI School student Joe Dobbyn, 17, is seeing renewed growth in the centre ground of British politics
We are in a crisis. Not a crisis of economics or conflict, but one of trust in politicians and belief in our system of government.
A system where the most strongly placed opposition in decades is unable to make its position clear, a system where rebelling politicians receive stricter punishment than those who refuse to condemn anti-Semitic or islamophobic sentiment and a system where a man who refuses to turn up to debates or answer journalists’ questions can walk freely into Downing Street. The desire for change has become tangible.
The first thing to understand about the current crisis is that it’s not just a party issue. Both the Conservative leadership race and Labour in-fighting exemplify the pettiness and arrogance that has brought an old and tired Westminster to a standstill.
On one hand we have the ‘believe in Britain’ mentality which attempts to comfort those whose businesses will be destroyed by a No Deal, and on the other we have an opposition which, as a result of their own divisions, have adopted ‘constructive ambiguity’ as their main policy.
The harm of a gridlocked system is that the public lose faith. The party they voted for isn’t tackling burning injustices or promoting a second referendum, because the noise of empty promises and dogmatism drowns out the views of ordinary people. When parties stop listening, the people become disengaged – the death knell of any democracy.
Luckily, the demands for a renewed centre ground are being answered, though there is a long way to go. The Independent Group, formed from MPs from across the spectrum, is leading the fight in the House of Commons. Despite its humiliating first few months, it has acted as a green light for change.
Next, the Liberal Democrats made huge gains in the European elections, securing nearly 20 per cent of the nation’s vote. The fact that their leadership contest is going on without the fear and drama of their Conservative colleagues shows the benefits of a calmer class of politics.
Where we see hope and honesty, we must do all we can to support it in order to get out of this crisis
Finally, the superhero of common-sense, Conservative Rory Stewart, whose ground-breaking policy of not lying to people launched him into social media stardom, has single-handedly started a movement for a more honest and more down-to-earth style of politics.
Mr Stewart, who made it into the third round of the Tory leadership race, is a world apart from the vague and unappealing politicians who we have become so used to. When Boris Johnson suggested locking the doors of parliament in order to force a No Deal, Stewart put morality over his career by threatening to hold his own session of parliament and ‘bring down’ Boris. That shows us the difference between the leader we could have had and the one we will.
The Conservatives rejected Mr Stewart for being too honest, too realistic, too sensible. But we don’t have to think like them. Where we see hope and honesty, we must do all we can to support it in order to get out of this crisis. We cannot simply ‘believe in Britain’.
- See more opinions from King Edward VI School students