Little over four years ago, a series of riots broke out across England. People are still debating what exactly triggered this unrest on so large a scale. Often it is attributed to spending cuts, most notably the Government’s decision to treble the tuition fee cap to £9,000 per annum. Others ascribe it to classism and racism. While the impetus for something like this to happen is still contested, its long term effects are still visible. Four years later and it could be said that the opposition to the Government remains borderline violent. More recently, MP Douglas Carswell of UKIP (a party many deem to be radical) was heckled by those attending an anti-austerity rally.
The ubiquity of technology these days has made it easy to voice your opinions on anything and everything. Britain First, a far-right organisation opposed to all immigration, boasts over 825,000 likes on Facebook. The Conservative Party has little over 500,000 likes and the Labour Party has yet to even break the 400,000 like threshold. While this may highlight deficiencies in the social media campaign of the larger parties, it more worryingly highlights how enticing and easy it is to associate yourself with such movements online is.
Strong sentiment against the ‘establishment’ is not just exclusive to fringe groups on the far right though. The Labour Party, which was in power till as recently as 2010 is facing an existential crisis. Jeremy Corbyn, the frontrunner to be its next leader has been branded as ‘radical’ by many of his peers, with Labour MP Simon Danczuk going as far as to saying he’ll be ousted on day one. While many of his supporters would reject this claim, it should at least be noted that he is ‘radical’ in relation to the status quo. Whether that distinction from conventional politics is good is another question. It has gotten to the point that Tony Blair, former leader of the party and 3 time election victor, has pleaded with voters to vote for anyone but him. He goes on to write that:
Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t offer anything new. This is literally the most laughable of all the propositions advanced by his camp. Those of us who lived through the turmoil of the 80s know every line of this script. These are policies from the past that were rejected not because they were too principled, but because a majority of the British people thought they didn’t work. And by the way, they were rejected by electorates round the world for the same reasons.
We are in the midst of a tectonic shift in UK politics. The polarity between our two biggest parties will grow not out of necessity, but out of the sheer disgruntlement of ordinary people. People are sick and tired of the current state of affairs and so are taking measures which they think to be appropriate.
Things will never be the same.
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