Plunged into confusion. Can we fix British politics?

Ever since suggesting and then voting for a referendum on membership of the EU, politicians on all sides have caused a great amount of uncertainty in Britain and across the world. This is proven, no doubt, by the incredible results in June 2016’s Referendum and June 2017’s General Election, and it affects each and every one of us. This uncertainty has revealed deep divisions and problems in our society. So, what do we do now?

Uncertainty is great for no one

Let’s be clear, uncertainty isn’t great for anyone. This instability is felt in the rising cost of living, less secure employment and in our National Health Service. In fact, the only thing that this instability is good for is proving that the current system doesn’t work. Thus demonstrating the fact that we need to iterate and improve it.

So, it’s time to fix the system, but how?

I’m honestly not going to lay out the ultimate plan to fix Britain’s broken democracy in some 626-word post on my blog, but I will make suggestions, and that’s for good reason.

The fact is this; no single person or party can fix this alone. We, as humans, are incredibly complicated and hold a wide range of complicated opinions. It’s been reported that there are many dividing lines in our country; young vs old, town vs country, Remainer vs Brexiteer, etc. That doesn’t even account for that fact that these exist as spectrums, shades of grey; someone is not simply one or the other but they are likely somewhere in between. There are many valid arguments across all of these spectrums, therefore, when it comes to organising ourselves, we need to give everyone a voice. It’s difficult, but we need a system which will make politics less of a fight between us and them, and more of a useful, ongoing discussion between everyone. A system where every party will be forced to produce policies which benefit everybody – not just some of the people on their side. That’s why I believe in, and have already argued for, proportional representation, but that’s only part of the fix.

As I’ve said, the best way to deal with problems is to discuss them. We all need to be involved, we all need to communicate. The best way to do that is to educate people because we can’t communicate effectively until we’re all at a similar level of political understanding. That starts in school. Where I think that non-biased political education should be mandatory; like Maths or Religious Studies. Once we’re actively engaging the youngest in our society with politics, discussing current affairs with them as they happen, advising them against fake news, then we should give them the chance to vote. This should happen at 16, before they leave mandatory education in the UK, so that they understand the system and are encouraged to take part after they’ve left- maybe they can even iterate the system, too.

This education shouldn’t stop after leaving school either. There is already a huge push in this area; with lots of people aiming to build products which help us to understand and engage more closely with politics (you can read about some of that great work here). I myself would love to see a chatbot which keeps me updated with political stances on a local, national and international level and an app to see how much tax I pay and (roughly) where it goes. Everyone should be able to access accurate information in a way that’s easy for them to digest so that they can make more informed choices.

Hopefully, with more well-informed people having their voices counted, we will actually be able to sort ourselves out eventually. One day, we might even be strong and stable.