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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

British politics: Is it dead yet?

Mick Hume in Spiked Online bemoans the dismal inertia of British politics these days:

We are left with a situation where, in purely polling terms, the political map may look more fluid and 'interesting' than for a decade. Yet in terms of any real political struggle, nothing is moving or happening at all. One of the more remarkable developments, for example, is the silent disappearance of the Liberal Democrats from national debate, in circumstances where a third party surely ought to be able to clean up on public disaffection with the main players.

And in an age of personality politics without personalities, the stature of political leaders seems to diminish generation by generation. Look at the collection of gormless figures standing for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party. Or some of the faceless dweebs behind Cameron on the Tory front bench. Or the fact that mentalist Michael Meacher, the 9/11 conspiracy theorist, is the only MP apparently prepared to stand against the charmless Brown as leader. Or that Miliband, a lump of wood in a suit, can be seen as the great white hope of New Labour. Blair truly does look like a giant in comparison with these political pygmies. Little wonder, then, that Cameron the smoothie former PR executive, can cut a dash across the political stage. But little wonder, too, that he has made such little difference in the world outside Westminster.

Although I have never been a Conservative, I would even be prepared to welcome a true Tory revival if it could breathe some oxygen into political life. But a contest between a paralysed New Labour under Brown or whoever and a bloodless Cameron PR campaign is the last thing we need. Time to set aside all the infantile poseurs playing at being big guns, and have a proper grown-up shoot-out about where our society is heading.

We sympathise: the lack of any meaningful political debate in this country is the principal reason why a new party is needed. The British people are already beginning to sense this: the fall in election turnout in recent years, and the sharp rise in the proportion of voters prepared to consider voting for parties other than the big three are both manifestations of this rise in consciousness of the need for an alternative. The New Party provides this outlet for the British people. We seek to offer a rational, progressive liberal alternative to the sterile social-democratic consensus that currently has a stranglehold on political debate in this country. The time has come for real change: the New Party seeks to deliver it.