Recent events in British politics have shown once again how volatile democracy can be. Defections, a new political grouping which might become a party, resignations, threats ofmore defections – all fascinating for the minority of people who love political drama.
We should recognise that in a robust democracy like ours, from time to time there will be re-alignment and evolution. There always has been. Our Parliament started with the lordsand landed gentry gathering to advise the monarch and has developed from there as more power has been demanded by them and the people they represent. Not many countries can boast a democratic tradition dating back to Magna Carta in 1215. The English Civil War in the 17th century was a decisive moment in which Parliament became supreme.
In the nineteenth century the Tories and Whigs battled it out as the two main parties. A hundred years or so the Labour party emerged as the principle challenger to the Conservatives and so it went on. The ebb and flow of a robust political system.
So if the current turbulence leads to new parties or temporary turbulence, we should not fear it.
The two main parties have long been a coalition of different interest groups coalescing together around a collective narrative. The extremely difficult issue of Brexit has put these broad churches under immense pressure and will continue to do so. Breaking point has been reached and passed. The valve is blowing.
How far will the current shake down go? If we can manage to get Brexit over the line behind the very sensible Deal (as further improved) I suspect that the Conservative Party under a new leader (later on this year) will remain largely intact, although we might see a handful of further defections. If we have a relatively sensible Brexit, there might be room for a new Nigel Farage party which some of my colleagues who wake up every morning dreaming of a no deal Brexit might join. But I think the main body of the blue team will stay together,
The Labour party has significant problems as many of their MPs simply cannot stand their leader and the direction in which he seeks to take them. I suspect their turmoil will deepen and last longer, especially if the new Independent Group starts to function impressively.
Temporary turbulence has happened many times throughout British history. It usually makes our political system stronger and more fit for purpose.