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  • F Hazelwood

F Hazelwood considers how UK politics serves the people today and asks... Is Politics Broken?

Updated: Jun 26, 2023


British politics seems to be in an awful place. With our own elected Prime Minister going behind our backs on crucial lockdown laws he initiated, protests against the police (and the subsequent silencing of these protests), it goes without saying that our politics is flawed. We must ask ourselves if politics is broken, and if so, is it unfixable?


In a study conducted in 2019, the charity FullFact discovered that just 19 per cent of Britons said they would trust politicians to tell the truth. Already that number is dreadful, but this study was carried out pre-covid, and before the recent revelations of lockdown betrayals. Since then, it is hard to imagine how much further this number has sunk. This study also found that 42 per cent of us say we trust the government to do the right thing. This percentage is actually lower than the percentage of votes the conservative government received in 2019, meaning not everyone who voted for this government even trusted them. Of course, I am not arguing that just the conservatives are flawed or untrustworthy. In fact, the problem clearly lies deeper than one party, and trust has been lost with the government on a fundamental level.


"In a system where a person’s true beliefs have to be abandoned… can we really say our politics is not flawed?"

One surprisingly common practice that highlights the flaws with our political system is tactical voting, where people vote for the party that aligns “close enough” with their views to vote another out. Many people are pushed towards this is extremely common practice as we seem to move closer and closer to a two-party system. Recently I spoke to a work colleague who is a passionate environmentalist, who was eager to vote Green Party in the most recent election as she felt this is what the country needed. However, she “accepted” that they would not win, voting Labour instead. This way of voting is so commonplace that there is a website dedicated to the tactical vote : https://tactical.vote/ , which was used during the 2019 election, calculating who to vote for to vote out the tories. In a system where a person’s true beliefs and ideals have to be abandoned in an attempt to prevent their worst case scenario, can we really say our politics is not flawed?


Examples such as this do expose the problems with politics in the UK, but these are merely side effects for a deeper rooted problem. Politics is no longer about the greater good, about compromise or about the public. Instead, today, it is simply about winning. The UK seems to be in consensus that politicians will promise anything, claim anything and defame any character in order to get the vote. In the run up to the most recent election the conservative party promised a care cap that would assure no people would have to lose their assets or sell their homes to pay for care. As our population ages and diseases like Alzheimer’s become increasingly prevalent, this promise was extremely valued by many members of the public. It is obvious how it was assumed this manifesto would bring in a great deal of votes. However, this promise turned out to have no real backing or plan, and many people are seeing the effects of this, namely my own grandfather. Of course, this is a personal example, but there are countless promises made and lies told by either side of the government that have caused immense problems.

"In my KTS survey just 5.7 per cent voted that UK politics is not broken"

Take the mess of Brexit, lies about cracking down on county lines, and so much more. Promises should not be made simply to gain power. They should be made solely for the benefit of the public and our country. The British public accept that bound-to-fail lies are told daily by the government in order to hold power, and this is simply not good enough.


Another undeniable fact is that our generation as a whole is lacking engagement with politics. The problem is not necessarily that young people don't care about politics, and the survey I conducted on our Sixth Form found that 37.1% of students who answered do not care about politics. An ONS study with a sample size of 40,000 households found similarly that 42.4 percent of 16-24 year olds have no interest in politics. While this is a significant percentage, there seems to be even more significant problems. In my survey just 5.7 percent voted that UK politics is not broken, and not a single person answered that they trust politicians indefinitely. Another study found just over 50 percent of 18-24 year olds voted in the 2019 election as opposed to around 85 percent of 56-74 year olds. I feel this disengagement is one of the biggest problems with politics today, as young people are undeniably the future of the UK.


Had 100 percent of young people voted, the results of the last few elections and referendums could have been completely different and far more progressive. If we broadcast our voices now, this huge problem could become a solution. We must understand that soon the government will be in our hands, and we do not have to lead it in the way we have seen cause so many failures within our lifetime. To me, politics may be broken, but we are the solution.


Picture: theguardian.com


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