Those of us who have watched the development of ‘the Borough First’, will be unsurprised by news of a breakaway ‘Independent Group’ at Westminster. Set up as a values-led organisation, the view of the so called ‘Gang of Ten' is that the political system is beyond repair and none of the main traditional parties--Labour, the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats--are capable of fixing it.
In her blog, BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg suggests that “this splintering might – in time – turn into a much bigger redrawing of the political landscape.” With Labour under Corbyn heading the furthest left it had been since the disastrous 1983 election, and the Conservatives, spooked by UKIP’s success in 2015 and keen to emulate Trump’s 2016 victory, heading further right, a large gap has appeared in the centre which the Liberal Democrats have been incapable of filling. Traditional party loyalty is steadily eroding, and there is a large cohort of MPs and the population in general displaced politically and actively looking for a new home.
Party loyalty was first studied by Angus Campbell with national election surveys in the United States in the 1950s. Through his research, he found that many people began the campaign with their decision already made. People often attributed their votes to long-established family traditions or positions they had held across many elections. Perhaps the most famous example is the saying that used to be traditionally applied to voters in Windsor and Maidenhead: they ‘would vote for anyone, even if they were a purple dog, as long as they wore a Blue rosette’.
Social identity theorists argue that these partisan ties are similar to identifications with a social class, religious denomination, or affiliation with other social groups such as supporters of football teams. Today, judging by national pre-election surveys, the party identification question is central to the debate, with canvassers across Windsor and Maidenhead asking the key questions to determine your voting intentions, long before the ballot itself.
However, as shown by the MPs leaving the Labour and Conservative parties nationally, there is increasing evidence that these partisan ties are weakening and a new politics is emerging. Significantly fewer people now approach politics with a fixed party loyalty—although many people still have party allegiances. When people lack party identity, there is potential to reshape electoral behaviour and the nature of politics into a totally separate direction.
The new ‘Independent Group’, like ‘The Borough First’, has recognised that the political landscape is changing. As the traditional parties continue to alienate ordinary citizens, there is an opportunity for both groups to challenge traditional perceptions and lead a change in voting behaviour, ultimately transforming politics.
The Borough First is at the vanguard of this political revolution. ‘The Borough First’ takes national politics out of the picture by selecting candidates committed above all to serve their constituents and making the Royal Borough a better place to live and work. The May elections provide a choice that will affect the Borough for decades to come, as the next administration will decide the fate of the Borough Local Plan and the policies within it. Will we have more affordable homes available for members of the community? How will we support those unable to find a home at all? What support will we give schools, health services and our roads? How do we support responsible growth whilst protecting our greenbelt? The May elections will give residents a meaningful choice and the chance to focus on people before politics to truly put the Borough first.
Teacher Richard Endacott is a Windsor resident and Vice-Chair of the West Windsor Residents Association.
Published and Promoted by Charles Hollingsworth on behalf of “the BOROUGH first“, both of PO BOX 4919, Maidenhead, SL60 1LS