United we stand….divided we fall?

According to a ComRes poll for the BBC’s Daily Politics program 60% of people think that Labour is the ‘most divided’ political party. It is a political truism that parties seen as ‘divided’ are damaged goods electorally though the fact that this is the case should lead to questions about what exactly voters expect from their politicians.

They expect ‘unity’ but also sincerity of conviction which in political reality are antithetical expectations. Parties by their very nature are voluntary alliances of people and on a wider scale different wings. No party is united in the homogenous way that is the expectation and if they were then frankly something is wrong. In fact, the only way at least the appearance of this can be maintained is through squashing inner-party democracy and the elevation of spin over substance (the more substantive things are; the more people will differ).

As Anthony Painter rightly advises Labour;

We can’t as a party get ourselves in a position where people are not allowed to express perfectly legitimate opinions without being vilified- that’s a recipe for ossification.

Sadly, under Tony Blair the structures of inner Labour Party democracy were effectively moth-balled. Painter goes onto argue that the Conservatives are more divided than Labour and in some respects that is correct though the public don’t see this because a) they are less scrutinised and b) because the division between the likes of Daniel Hannan/Conservative Home and the Cameron leadership will take time (and an election victory/advance) to play out.  However, in partial defence of the Conservatives at least their differences at this current moment are more substantive than the playground-personality based ones afflicting Labour and the issue of its leadership. Until somebody steps forward with a substantive vision, the lack of which the latest New Statesman bemoans, they will remain this way.

Of course, even if you squash inner-party democracy (which any political party is willing to do under the right conditions, including the Liberal Democrats) you then get an ‘airbrushed’ image of a united party. However, nothing could be further from how things actually are and I would argue that its better for voters and democracy as a whole if they stop seeking to judge a ‘divided’ party as necessarily a bad one or one unfit to govern. In fact, by some criteria the more divided a party is the better as it shows the party is healthy, living and has an organic connection with people. Parties that strive for a plastic unity become unconnected from reality and willfully dismissive of the electorate and communities. What really matters is what the divisions represent and the substantive issues that underlie them and that is what should inform judgements on their validity (or lack of).

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About darrellgoodliffe

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5 responses to “United we stand….divided we fall?”

  1. mommsen says :

    What a brilliant analysis of a problem which we do also have in my own country, Germany. Unfortunately, the German press usually even increases the problem by criticising political parties for being divided whenever a serious and open debate is going on within one of the parties. I think that journalists would do a better job if they published such good content as the one you’ve published here.

    I anyhow think that yours is one of the best political blogs in Britain. Unfortunately, many of the English seem to prefer reading such stupid blogs as “Guido Fawkes”. This week even Le Monde wrote about it. Perhaps your blog would be read by more British citizens if it was better known. It certainly deserves to be read by more of your country’s citizens.

    Like

  2. darrellgoodliffe says :

    mommsen,

    Thanks for the comment. It seems that the media has a role in Germany like it does over here and that role as you rightly say does treat serious and open debate in a way that it is presented as being ‘divisive’. Unfortunately, our blogs are not as representative as the print media as would be desired; however, your kind remarks are much appreciated :).

    Thank you once again for your kind words. I totally agree about Guido’s blog which is stupid and offensive. I would hope so, thanks once again, I am glad you enjoy the blog. 🙂

    Like

  3. Michael V. Caldwell says :

    “THINKING OUT OF THE BOX FOR AMERICA & THE WORLD”

    What this statement means to me is; to think of ways to help Everyone In America with New Positive Ideas that Will help to fix our problems, Focus On The Ball ! !
    ( focus on the problems at hand and come up with potential New Ideas that will help to solve Our Problems)

    “LEAD BY EXAMPLE” means to; come up with Ideas to Help Americans Lead The World By Example.

    “UNITED WE STAND” “DIVIDED WE FALL” (these are not just words these are facts)

    What this statement means to me is; To Work Together as a Nation using Ameri-Can Do Attitudes To Stand Together, To Solve Problems In A United Way, As Americans, As;

    “WE THE PEOPLE” (not divided parties, not divided people that make it difficult and almost impossible to solve even the simplest problems)

    Look to nature for proof of the above statement;

    Look at what Ants accomplish together as a colony as a Team Working Together, look at their unbelievable STRENGTHS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS ! !

    Then; Look at the one ant that you see once in a while by himself running around in circles, confused, lost and accomplishing nothing, this is what happens when we divide.

    Time to; TEAM UP AMERICA ! ! & LEAD BY EXAMPLE ! !

    (Always trying to help as a Proud American in a Positive Way ! !)

    Thank You, Respectfully, Michael V. Caldwell

    Like

    • mommsen says :

      Michael

      You wrote: “Look at what Ants accomplish together as a colony”.

      Yes, but the American nation was born when Americans rejected the idea of living in a colony ruled by a monarch.

      Instead of having a “look at what Ants accomplish together as a colony”, I had a look at wikipedia’s entry on ant colonies.

      So here is what wikipedia says about the larger ones: “These larger colonies consist mostly of sterile wingless females forming castes of ‘workers’, ‘soldiers’, or other specialised groups. Nearly all ant colonies also have some fertile males called ‘drones’ and one or more fertile females called ‘queens’.”

      Well, how American would it be to belong to a caste and to be ruled by queens?

      Perhaps the American political system does not work as well as it ought to.

      But too bad it is not.

      Like

  4. Michael V. Caldwell says :

    THINKING OUT OF THE BOX FOR AMERICA & OUR WORLD

    I am going to make a Suggestion to ALL Of the Politicians IN THE WORLD ! !

    WE THE PEOPLE, LOOK TO ALL OF YOU FOR SUPPORT & HELP IN OUR HOUR OF NEED, TO:

    LEAD OUR COUNTRIES OUT OF THE BAD TIMES, BY WORKING TOGETHER TO COME UP WITH SOLUTIONS.

    THIS IS WHY WE ELECTED ALL OF YOU, NOT ONE OF YOU, ALL OF YOU ! !

    Here is my suggestion to all of you, CHANGE THE WAY YOU ARE CONDUCTING PUBLIC BUSINESS ! ! START HANDLING YOUR VERBAL DISAGREEMENTS THAT YOU HAVE WITH EACH OTHER THE WAY YOU WOULD IF YOU OWNED YOUR OWN COMPANY, either behind closed doors or openly with respect and dignity, if you don’t like some ones idea, tell them in a pleasant way and suggest a new idea.

    There is never a new Idea that doesn’t have holes in it, so plug the holes with fresh ideas in a positive professional manner. (good business practice and it works)

    “Run Our Country as if it was, Your Company”

    When you own your own Company, if you have a disagreement with a partner or an associate, you take that person aside away from everyone and work it out, or in a conference room. If you have to correct them in front of another employee you do it with respect and dignity at all times.

    Why do you do it this way, because this is how you run a SUCCESSFUL PROFESSIONAL BUSINESS.

    ALL BUSINESSES Run Their business this way, small businesses and Large businesses. We even have laws that protect us from VERBAL ABUSE against each other in work places.

    So WHY WOULDN’ T WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA expect or deserve any less from of OUR LEADERS THAT ARE LEADING OUR COUNTRY; THAT WE VOTED INTO OFFICE ? ?

    PLEASE THINK ABOUT THIS AND LOOK AT MY MOTIVES, MY MOTIVES ARE SIMPLE.
    I JUST WANT TO SEE ALL OF YOU TO “LEAD US BY EXAMPLE” In a UNITED WAY, the way the “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” MAKES OUR NATION THE LEADER IN OUR WORLD ! !

    Summary;

    Simple, Run our Country like it is YOUR OWN BUSINESS and no LESS THAN THAT.

    I have no motives, other than to see this happen.

    I feel this is What Mr.Obama was trying to convey in his speech today to America.

    Great Job, Mr. Obama ! ! (what this statement represents;)

    Respect For Our President Of The United States, He Showed Respect To Everyone Yesterday During His Speech, So He Deserves To Be Treated The Same Way, Pass This On Folks A Good Place To Start.

    CHANGE THE WAY WE TREAT EACH OTHER and lets fix our
    problems together as a Nation As A TEAM ! ! TEAMS WIN ! ! “TEAM UP AMERICA”

    We as The People Should do this as well, If they can do this We Should Do this ! !

    What does any of us have to loose by trying this approach ?
    Answer Nothing.
    What Do All Of us Have to Gain By treating each other with Respect ?

    Answer RESPECT for each other, Without Respect for each other WE can’t fix any problems, all do is create more problems for Ourselves & The World)

    We all have choices we make.

    We can be Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution ! !

    Part of the Problem is Finger Pointed, Disrespect for each other and lack of Team Work. Or We can be part of the Solution Respect For Each Other AMERI-Can Do Attitudes & Team Work To Solve Our Problems.

    I choose to be part of the Solution In A Positive Way using Respect as my Guide Line to follow at all Times.

    Thank You, Respectfully, Michael V. Caldwell “GOD BLESS AMERICA”

    “GOD BLESS OUR WORLD THAT WE ALL SHARE TOGETHER”

    (Always Trying To Make a Difference in a Positive Way)

    Like

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