The Party Line is ………Coherence

Modern civilisation exists as a coalescence of nations and communities, with a common set of ideas at its heart and with the aim of the advancement and perpetuation of the species. Today’s political parties are a macrocosm of this coalescence in so much as they exist to advance a common set of ideas to the advancement of the party’s goals.

When declaring that their political ideas match those of a group or political party, the individual forfeits their individual perceptions of what it means to have these ideals and suborns them to the will of the political party. Or at least that’s how it should be.

As more and more voices enter the fray, the debate over the content of the political ideas that the party purports become less and less important and somewhere along the way the politics of idealism is replaced by the politics of compromise.

A common ideological thread is essential to the success of a party, as its easier to sell a single political ideology to the people than the din of parties ideological rambling.  This set of principles must be simple and easy to state to any voter or member of the press.  The most successful ideologies in politics are those that are the easiest to explain.

But where does that simplification begin?

Fundamentally, this simplification begins at manifesto level.  A political parties manifesto provides the medium by which a parties’ ideas are encapsulated and presented to the public at large. This is the key document which defines it as a political organisation, existing both in print and latterly on the internet.

This is where the simplicity exists and also where it ends. Once it becomes subject to interpretation the message is lost in translation and loses its effectiveness as a political belief system. The clarity of the manifesto is what makes it palatable to the people, once that dies you can never resurrect it.

It is wrong to blame just the party members for this ideological death, as the leaders of political parties are equally culpable and can impede the effectiveness of political doctrine delivery.

Just look at the impact that Donald Trump has had on the perceived political position of the Republican party in America. The politics of the individual can sometimes have nothing in common with the overriding politics of the party.  For example, how many Republican politicians would extoll a political credo so extreme that it borders on racism? Simple answer: None. They would offend their core voting base and would potentially forfeit their political standing.

On the other side of the coin, how much does Mr Trump’s political position have in common with the politics of the average Republican voter? Zero. This is an example of how an individual’s politics at leadership level results in the divergence of the political parties’ ideology from its core message.

Should an individual, at leadership or parliamentary level be allowed to force or purport a message which results in this sort of political divergence? If the party wants to be a successful one then theoretically no, it shouldn’t, it should speak with one voice and present one message to the people of the country it wishes to govern.

Politicians lend a great deal of belief and conviction to their speechmaking and general conduct while in the political sphere and limitation of this to a set message and delivery would detract from their impact and the effectiveness of the party. Think of the truly memorable politicians and they have all been individuals of singular personality and powered by strong idealism.

There must be a happy medium that would allow a party to conduct itself to a coherent and unified message but not compromise that message in its delivery. An argument can be made that this exists in the written and online world, but there is one very crucial difference: A party and its policies online rely on the individual interpretation of the individual accessing them, whereas the party and its policies in the public sphere can shape that individual’s perception and interpretation.

In assuming the leadership of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn has been keen to unify these many conflicting fields into one party with one message. He has been keen to create a unified opinion on all of the pertinent issues that the British public have been faced with and has utilised online media to create a unified identity for the Labour party.

The problem is that in creating this supposed unity, he has in fact created the conditions for widespread opposition not from the current membership, but from his parliamentary colleagues within the party. Members of Parliament finding that their views have been supplanted in favour of a unified position have instituted a backdoor coup against his leadership and although it will not succeed, the political damage done to the party is far reaching.

The Labour party has become the party of Jeremy Corbyn in the same way that the Republican party in America could effectively become the Donald Trump party after the election in November.

The crucial difference in this is that the American political system lends itself to an individual as its figure head but the British political system is a system of parties and organisations and as such does not allow for the coalescence of the party thesis into the central figurehead.

A simpler approach to politics is required, where the party maintains one coherent message that every member agrees on and can be easily espoused, interpreted and perceived by the public that it serves is a practical necessity.  The problem is that a singular message does not lend itself easily to the community led nature of the political party.

© R Simmons 2016. All Rights Reserved.