As the party con­fer­ence sea­son wraps up, Katy Balls ex­am­ines why West­min­ster is feel­ing in­creas­ingly sep­a­rate from the rest of the coun­try…

Grazia (UK) - - 10 Hot_ Stories -

THIS YEAR’S PARTY con­fer­ence sea­son saw Con­ser­va­tive ac­tivists in Birm­ing­ham queu­ing for up to three hours to hear Boris John­son wax lyri­cal about his vi­sion for the party – which was widely in­ter­preted as his bla­tant bid for the lead­er­ship. Mean­while, Ja­cob Rees-mogg – whose talk on the mer­its of a hard Brexit was again stand­ing-room only – was mobbed for pho­to­graphs in the cor­ri­dors.

Mean­while, in Liver­pool, at Labour’s an­nual con­fer­ence, it was the po­lar op­po­site of this hard­line con­ser­vatism – a sign read­ing ‘Fight for the right not to work’ at the World Trans­formed fes­ti­val that ran along­side the con­fer­ence, MP Laura Smith call­ing for a na­tional strike to bring about an early elec­tion, and Jeremy Cor­byn un­veil­ing an agenda, with so­cial­ism at its heart, that in­cluded a dras­tic ex­ten­sion of work­ers’ in­volve­ment at the top of com­pa­nies.

Cor­byn claimed that his party now rep­re­sents the po­lit­i­cal main­stream – but with Labour and the Con­ser­va­tives cur­rently dead­locked in the polls, it’s clear that a large chunk of the pub­lic do not feel the same way. In­deed, a re­cent Yougov poll found that a grow­ing num­ber of vot­ers feel alien­ated from the two main par­ties.

So, what’s turn­ing vot­ers off ? As well as Brexit, which re­mains a di­vid­ing line for many, there are also a num­ber of do­mes­tic is­sues not be­ing ad­e­quately ad­dressed. With Mil­len­ni­als grow­ing up with­out the home and job se­cu­rity af­forded to baby boomers, many vot­ers are fac­ing un­cer­tain fu­tures, rent­ing into old age, with lit­tle for a state pen­sion when they get there, plus a tick­ing time bomb on so­cial care.

There is also a per­son­al­ity dis­con­nect. Thanks to to­day’s politi­cians spend­ing too much time at­tack­ing each other or try­ing to prove they’ve got per­son­al­ity – take Theresa May-bot­ting on to the stage for her key­note speech as a prime ex­am­ple – West­min­ster feels in­creas­ingly sep­a­rate from the rest of the coun­try.

So, is it time for a new party to rise up and take the lost cen­tre? For­lorn Labour mod­er­ates and pro-eu Tory MPS look to France’s Em­manuel Macron as proof that it’s pos­si­ble. The French Pres­i­dent won his coun­try’s elec­tion off the back of a brand-new party and with lit­tle elec­toral ex­pe­ri­ence to boot. How­ever, the UK vot­ing sys­tem of ‘first past the post’ means it would be very hard for a new party to break through – but not im­pos­si­ble.

Vot­ers may well be stuck with the cur­rent par­ties on of­fer for now. But, if you feel po­lit­i­cally home­less, don’t give up just yet. Every party is des­per­ate to win new sup­port­ers. Although join­ing a party may seem a step too far, there are other ways to make your voice heard – from let­ting your lo­cal MP know the is­sues you’re most wor­ried about, to join­ing in cam­paigns. What­ever you do, it will send a strong mes­sage to the par­ties to not take your vote for granted.

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