Parliament is stuck in limbo, where posturing and game-playing eclipses achievementby Justine Greening / November 9, 2019 / Leave a comment
I never had a major life mission to become an MP. The Game of Thrones politicos, who seemed to be the face of student politics at university, only put me off further. I was drawn in later, when I came to appreciate a very different sort of politics—focused not on politicking for its own sake but achieving change that actually helps people on the ground.
Sadly, our parliament seems destined to stay stuck in Brexit limbo, where the posturing and game-playing eclipses practical achievements, just as it has been for the past three years. It is no surprise—Brexit is the biggest political, economic and legal rewiring that Britain has experienced in decades. It is inevitably all-consuming.
When I joined the Conservatives many years ago, I saw it as the party of opportunity. But the last time it won a serious majority was in 1987, a staggering 32 years ago. It was then a party that recognised the value of aspiration, effort and, yes, reward. Such positive ideas brought together communities up and down the country. Yet rather than ask ourselves the tough questions on how we rediscover that success, the party now just seems to enjoy division and negative politics.
The challenge for today’s Conservative Party is to convince Britain that it understands how hard it is to climb the ladder when you start at the very bottom. It is not going to be taken seriously as a force to spread opportunity when two leaders in the last three have been to a single ultra-privileged private school, Eton, and so many other cabinet ministers are from similar backgrounds.
More broadly, the British party system is no longer up to the job. The three main parties have been around for over 100 years and it feels like they are past their sell-by date, hollowed out from within; fewer citizens these days are moved by loyalty to them. The issues Britain faces—whether on Brexit, climate change, social care or my own passion, social mobility—need long-term approaches. Our ossified political structures seem unable to deliver. These big issues cut across party lines, and so party politics inhibits solutions to the thorny problems we all care about.
So if our parties are no longer fit for purpose and if parliament…