It is tradition in British politics for both lefties and conservatives to put each other into neat little boxes – Corbynista, Tory, Pinko, Rightist. However, in recent times the lines between these convenient labels have blurred, to the point where they are simply no longer accurate. The left/right spectrum doesn’t work.
Clearly, the Brexit vote was not a matter of the left vs the right. Of course, the outcome was partly the result of a disenfranchised populate who felt like sticking it to the establishment. But more than this the Leave campaigners were successful because they played on the genuine concerns of working-class Britain. The things that counted, ultimately, were jobs, living conditions and immigration.
There is a refocused political division at play here that has taken emphasis away from the classical socialism/conservatism divide and opened the door to open vs closed politics.
For the last thirty years, the goal has been promoting economic and political integration – everyone seemed to agree that the Washington Consensus philosophy of the WTO worked. However, this has changed; we need only look over to America to see this in full force. Out with Obama, the pro-globalisation, pro-integration and pro-cooperation dinosaur, and in with the America-first, protectionist, isolationist Trump. US politics in this sense has become less about the left vs the right. It is about open arms vs drawbridges up.
The same trend can be seen in Britain. Almost fifty percent of the voting population, both left and right alike, voted to keep our doors open to the rest of Europe in 2016. These people wanted to cooperate with our neighbours and share the dividends from mutual prosperity. However, the other half of the UK demanded, and successfully at that, that we put up walls to protect ourselves from the dangerous (and some may say unfair) reality of global markets.
Once forcefully backed by UKIP, the Leavers who had aligned themselves with Farage have now dispersed almost evenly among the Conservatives and Labour, further illustrating the fact that left vs right is simply an inaccurate way of categorising the populate in 2017.
So how does the emergence of isolationist ideology present itself in society? Firstly, we have seen in Britain a sharp backlash in opposition of the vast cultural diversity that open-doors politics has brought. Growing diversity and global interdependence has led to a loss of cultural definition, for better or for worse, and the culturally conservative amongst us have had enough. But that’s just one side of the story. More and more of the socially liberal globalists have answered the call to arms in defence of the status quo – that it is right that society is fully integrated, because this is how we can learn and develop. However national identity is not the only effect observable in society today. The job market is saturated, and concern over the level of immigration has developed into a worrying precursor to social incoherence, propelled by the globalists’ incessant xenophobic labeling.
What Needs To Happen?
So, there is a new political divide in town. How can steps be made to ‘bridge the gap’ and create a government that rules in everybody’s interests? The first thing that the pro-world faction need to do is drop the racism slander. It is now ignorant to write off the globally sceptical nationalists as xenophobes and racists. There are real concerns that these people face and nationalistic protectionism provides an answer. On the other hand, this new wave of social protectionism must accommodate for the belief that the outside world has a lot to offer. There is value in diversity, and instead of cutting it off we might be better to make it work for us.
If you’d like to read more about the changing political landscape in the United Kingdom, I’d suggest reading this article from Wikipedia , on the concept of the Nolan Chart of political ideology, which graphs political freedom on one axis against personal freedom on the other. In the meantime, if you thought this article was of some value to you then share it with your networks below!