I’ve asked myself the same question endlessly; as we all no doubt do. Of course the voting system is a particular root cause.
But, for me, the ultra-significant factor is the quality of political education and understanding of the electorate. This frustrates and depresses me in about equal measure. We disgorge our 17 and 18 year old nascent voters from school with approximately zero political education (unless you’re doing politics in the sixth form). I’ve come across this lack so much in my talks in schools and on the street here, there and everywhere.
Nothing much has changed over time …I left school (a good grammar school in London) in 1969 with just about no politics in my head. I vaguely remember something about the passage of a Bill through Parliament and little else. The red/blue duopoly then, like now, had no interest in political education of the masses. Jeez! The electorate might notice that, effectively, we have an illegitimate voting system! Don’t want that do we?
The young get any political info they have from parents (often with minimal understanding themselves) , peer group, social media and little else. They, of course, need educating to have some critical thinking skills, an understanding of unreliable sources of info and the need to fact-check everything!
I was at my old school in London a couple of weeks ago giving a talk to the sixth form politics lot. One of the questions to me was: “Do you think that the UK should have compulsory voting”. My answer was along the lines of “No I don’t. In a democracy I think one should have the right to vote or not to vote. BUT the electorate should be compulsorily educated to be able to come to an informed decision”.
Compare all the UK’s parlous state of affairs to, say, Germany where they have (understandably) good political education in schools. And grown-up politics follows on.
I am absolutely sure that a major contribution to societal inequality and polarisation (Them and Us stuff) is the inevitable collapse of capitalism. Those tensions will become manifest in a variety of ways, the most obvious and serious being climate change. The capitalist construct as we know it (now the neo-liberal version) is largely, and unknowingly, hard-wired-in from the start to hit the buffers of reality as an infinite growth model is revealed to have limits. Governments and leaders of countries will inevitably apply sticking plaster ‘remedies’ rather than looking at mitigating the causes. ‘The Bandits’ will do as much as they can to prop up the dysfunctional status quo from which they benefit so handsomely.
As an aside, my Proportional Representation seminal moment was getting hold of the Hansard Society Commission Report on Electoral Reform of 1976, also called the Blake Report. I got to this in the late 70s. I re-read the whole lot again recently and had tears in my eyes. It’s all been done before; we don’t need to re-invent the wheel! You can skip to pages 135 to 145 to read the recommendations and conclusions.
Swept under the carpet by the red/blue duopoly.
All so very sad.