Falkirk shows old party politics is no longer fit for purpose

Monday, 08 July 2013

A statement from the Compass[i]  pressure group argues that the Falkirk selection is a symptom of a much deeper political malaise because none of the traditional, mainstream political parties are thriving today.

The statement calls for an end to the command and control era of party politics, saying it is increasingly ‘out of kilter with the modern world.’ It suggests that for all political parties to stay relevant they ‘radical internal democratisation combined with openness to the outside world.’

It also suggests concrete policies that should be explored including:

– State funding of political parties
– Moving to an electoral system of proportional representation
– Reforming the party whip system in Parliament

Recent polling research also shows the public are hugely sceptical about the main political party’s ability to fundamentally change their lives. The polling also shows that the public overwhelmingly want the main political parties to be less tribal and less closed in the way they interact with outsiders.

The slow and painful ebbing away of trust and belief in formal party politics is now an avalanche. A specially commissioned poll by YouGov for the re-launch of the Compass pressure group[ii] shows that:

  • 73% of the public believes that our political system is too feeble to make big changes to British society.
  • 70% of the public believes that the sharp decline in the membership of all the main parties means that they are less representative of ordinary people than they used to be.
  • 73% of the public believes that if the main political parties are to tackle Britain’s big problems, they need to be far less tribal in the way they behave and involve people outside their ranks far more in their policy-making and policy delivery.


Neal Lawson of Compass said “the country needs political parties but we need them to be transformed into modern participatory structures – not machines prey to fixers”

Notes for editors:

[i] The survey was taken from a sample of 1861 GB Adults between 12th – 13th June 2013.

[ii] Compass, with a membership of 5000 and supporter base of 60,000 is the home for people who know that no single issue or party can deliver a good society alone, one that is much more equal, sustainable and democratic. See www.compassonline.org.uk/about for more information.

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