Should voters be willing to vote for disunited parties?

Interesting piece on the BBC’s ‘Open Secrets’ blog; it reports on the possible release of Cabinet papers under a Freedom of Information request relating to devolution. It also says that the government is determined to resist any FOI requests which strike against the notion of ‘collective responsibility’ and that the government will exempt Cabinet papers from such requests for 20 years.

The blog ends on an interesting point;

“It also occurred to me that perhaps the group of people who are the biggest obstacle to such a change are actually the voters themselves. Since the electorate doesn’t seem to like voting for clearly disunited parties, it doesn’t give politicians much of an incentive to be open and honest about internal party disagreement.

Here’s a question for you to mull over. If you are one of those people who want more openness and honesty in politics, are you happy to vote for an obviously disunited party, or are you part of the problem?”

I think this is essentially true, that voters express a wish for one thing ie, more openness and honesty but vote in a way that is totally contra to that expressed aim by punishing parties that are thought of as ‘divided’. Also, if you look at a phenomena like New Labour then you see they also electorally reward parties that are seen as monolithic and singular in their viewpoint. Tribalism in politics is also rewarded as it is deemed unacceptable to acknowledge merit in an opponents point of view should it exist.

Actually, I think this stems from flaws in our democratic culture and a lack of willingness to engage with differences and find the truth behind them and thus determine the merits of the respective case. ‘Division’ does not automatically equate to weakness though I think this is not the popularly held view. So, if people do really want dramatic change in politics then I do think it is incumbent on them to change how they behave as voters too and not just constantly demand change of the system.


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About darrellgoodliffe


4 responses to “Should voters be willing to vote for disunited parties?”

  1. Letters From A Tory says :

    I’d like people to vote for which party their own philosophy fits with, which would not be affected if a party contained a range of opinions. Sadly in the media age, unity is everything as disunity will be continually pounced on by your opponents.


  2. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Agreed but the voters gobble it up and vote accordingly.


  3. Richard Gadsden says :

    I think a lot of voters’ problem with disunity is that they don’t know what they are voting for. If the party is not united, then how can the voter influence the factions within that party.

    As with so many things, STV would help with that one, as voters would be able to vote for one faction (within the party of their choice) over another.

    The great thing about STV is that the line between separate parties that agree a lot (and are likely to go into coalition) and factions within a party becomes much more blurred but the voters don’t need to care; they can vote for what they want either way.


  4. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Except an MP with a living link to a viably sized geographical area….;)


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