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  • Writer's pictureReece Bithrey

Are 'Change UK - The Independent Group' A Real Political Force?

(Picture Credit - Reaction.Life)

Across the political spectrum, by way of UK politics, we have parties that appeal to the majority of the electorate. Whilst there will be sectors within groups that disagree with a party's core beliefs, these groups are usually outweighed by a majority. 'Change UK - The Independent Group' are the latest bunch of rebellious MPs who are there to alter the political status-quo and give voters another option. Can they go on and become a true political force?

At face value, Change UK do look to be a serious alternative option and with the sheer gusto of their abilities to enter back into the political fray so quickly, they're somewhat reminiscent of the Social Democrat Party and the 'Gang Of Four' - David Owen, Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins and Bill Rodgers. The SDP, at the 1983 General Election, having formed an alliance with the Liberal Party, won around a quarter of the vote. However, whilst Labour only won two more percent of the vote, they gained ten times the amount of seats that the SDP did. With the rise of Change UK, it's possible that the first-past-the-post system could flaw them, if they choose to stand in a General Election. With the European Elections looming, Change UK are polling at around ten percent, some way off the leading all-new Brexit Party, led by Nigel Farage, who themselves are polling at 28%.

By way of branding too, Change UK are looking to fall off a political cliff - their logo is nonsensical and their name is too complicated. It's too temporary in nature - 'Independent' is only juxtaposed by their members' previous political allegiances. Ten years down the line, if they still exist, the 'Independent' element will be absolutely irrelevant - people won't really care about the previous standings of Chuka Umunna or Anna Soubry alike. Also, using 'Change' as one of the main words in your party title is a tad old-hat, isn't it? It's too ambiguous again; all parties stand for change one way or another and by using 'Change UK' as a name, it's a little Neanderthal in delivery. From the outside, it seems like the party are championing independence but what exactly do they want independence from? The political norm? Now, I'm the furthest thing from a conformist, but the way that it seems is that we have to adhere to whatever this 'political norm' actually is to get anything done.

Albeit, getting things done is what all parties need to do, regardless of political standing and by creating another party out of a bunch of rebel MPs, it's only exacerbating the issues at hand. It's more for the electorate to consider and more work to try and win a vote with more parties around. You could argue that by having more parties that there is more choice in the centre, compared to the polarised Labour and Conservative options, but it can be said that the political centre is becoming somewhat saturated. As a result, it becomes increasingly difficult for voters to choose which part of the centre to pledge their allegiances to and mark the ballot paper.

The logo itself is another small gripe that could stop Change UK from becoming a major political force; four black lines don't exactly signify core beliefs, but that can be said for the rest of the political parties too. By way of branding, everything seems too archaic. With politics becoming more of an exercise in multimedia reach and the way society has become, we look for instant gratification - simplistic and convenient answers. A party's logo and also name should provide people with those answers and shouldn't facilitate the need for them to go foraging for them. What do those four, sometimes multi-coloured lines signify? Difference in thoughts? Difference in actions? There's something almost dismissive about them and an ascertained seclusion - it suggests a barrier to entry.

In terms of actual politics, it's hard to define Change UK. With no official manifesto, their entire political standing looks to be determined by what they call their 'Eleven Values' on their website. To be honest, by virtue of their policies alone, it's hard to really argue with them, with calls such as higher levels of investment into public services, such as the NHS. It's plain for pretty much everyone to see that the NHS are in crisis and on their knees and with higher levels of public funding, there's a chance that the NHS could become healthier as an organisation. However, with the issues at hand, the question turns to a matter of funding. As a publicly funded institution, the NHS is reliant upon tax payments from those employed - National Insurance Contributions.

The logical way to fund a better, surviving health service would be to raise taxes - something Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party is calling for too. Higher taxation levels would, in theory, give higher amounts of government income, but people always find ways to circumvent the law - those who are rich enough will hire accountants to fiddle their taxes so they pay less, or don't pay anything at all. This means that the government will most likely collect the same amount of tax as before the initial rise, or maybe even less if many rich people decide to fiddle the system. What's also got to be considered in this is the amount that taxes would be put up by, as is the case with our current levels of interest rates, there's very little room to move. Raising taxes by a couple of percent overall is likely to make little difference. There are other ways of funding better public services, such as further spending cuts, which is more Conservative than anything else, bringing another whole heap of problems. What else is there to cut?

We do know for sure that all of the members of Change UK are vocal supporters of a 'People's Vote' on the subject of Brexit. They've described themselves as the 'Remain Alliance' in Twitter campaigns, evoking images of a particularly dystopian, yet sci-fi villain, confined by the political clutches that society has placed on them. A second referendum, with the way Brexit has gone and looks to be going, is a pretty null point - yes, you can 'put it back to the people', but where's the good if you have the same outcome? We've discussed this before on the site and from a personal perspective, one of the hardest things for me to see is how a 'People's Vote' would give people a viable option, apart from to stay part of the EU. If that doesn't happen, what do you put on the ballot paper? There's no viable deal from both the perspectives of Leavers and Remainers alike, so, what happens with that? It's too little, too late in my eyes and even then, there are parties aplenty that wish to try and stop Brexit. Change UK don't exactly present themselves as a viable alternative to the likes of the Lib Dems who are a more established party and do look to have a little more cohesion than some centrist political rivals.

In conclusion, personally speaking, it's pretty hard to see where Change UK really fit in on the political spectrum and more to the point, it's difficult to see as to whether they can go on to become a dynamic political force. Their policies are pretty inoffensive, harking back to the days of post-War consensus politics from Attlee to Heath; do we really want more of a similar run of cuts or just trundling along, like we are now really. Something needs to be done to tackle our heavy domestic issues, like that of the prevalent crime issues this country has and with a government that's too apathetic, it's hard to see if anything would ever get done with this lot behind the political wheel.


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