In todays Observer Andrew Rawnsley writes of a year of schisms and conflict for our two largest parties, which could potentially lead to the collapse of both of these dominant and arrogant organisations. While Labour currently has a much larger membership base than the Conservatives, between the two of them they can claim a mere 1% of the population of the UK. I recall at one time the statistics that were bandied around that only 5% of the population studied to degree level making them something of an elite. It was against this backdrop that New Labour sought to increase University entrants to 50%. In 1953 2.8M people were members of the Conservative Party. Today they have around one 20th of that number, yet the population has grown by some 25% in that time. It is probable that the wealthy funders of these two parties will force the parties to sit around the relevant tables, whatever the outcome of the votes on trident and Europe. After all it is these funders who have most to lose. They are the ones who could least afford the instability and confusion that the loss of one or other of these parties might bring. However as electors we need to consider what is best for our communities and for our nation too. If the collapse in either party is averted this year, the inevitable destruction of political life as we know it cannot be averted for ever. We either need to reconnect with these parties ourselves which in itself will create a level of chaos and the end of existing fiefdoms. If local Political Parties were suddenly deluged with new members, the stress and strain created in the existing power structures, as we have seen with Labour would be very uncomfortable for those currently holding sway. Or else we need to consider voting in very different ways in the future taking a risk with the parties that could in theory change the political landscape in a positive manner. If UKIP and the Greens, along with Plaid Cymru and of course the Lib Dems were to gain traction on the seats in Parliament, if some credible Independent MPs were elected, the impact of wealthy donors and lobbyists would be dissipated and we would have a democracy unrecognisable compared to today. It would also lead to a shift of power within the two dominant parties and so they too would be changed as a result. The outcome would be messy, and confusing at first, but it could be a great deal more relevant to people in our communities who have been disenfranchised for decades.
As I suggest, I think if Andrews predictions are close to the truth, that the most likely outcome will a lot of meetings with the Unions for Labour and the big financial funders for the Conservatives, using enormous amounts of sticking plaster to hold these parties together. However I am confident we will see some real change, if not this year, certainly in the decade to come.