Discussion Forums » Topic of the Month

Topic for July 2021 - Adversarial Politics

    • 124 posts
    July 2, 2021 3:06 PM BST

    The proposed topic for the July Meeting is:

    Adversarial Politics - How could we tackle Adversarial Politics with a different but more effective system?


    • What is adversarial politics and how does it manifest itself?
    • Why does it happen?
    • Is it actually OK, given the many cross-party select committees and APPGs. Do we just get a distorted view because the adversarial elements, like PMQs, get media attention?
    • What are the benefits of adversarial politics?
    • What are the downsides of adversarial politics?
    • Can adversarial politics be addressed without a different media culture?
    • What are the most fundamental things we would want to change? Do we need to tackle the substance, or style, of adversarial politics, or both?
    • What do we really want our political system to deliver? What would the main objectives of a different, or modified system, have to be?
    • What different approaches, or elements of approaches, can we think of?
    • 5 posts
    July 4, 2021 9:30 AM BST

    Interesting subject matter - the adversarial approach is deeply seated in nearly everything we do - for or against, guilty or not guilty, workers vs employers, the state against the people, rich against the poor.

    In politics far too often it manifests as shabby opposition for the sole sake of opposing, rather than seeking balance for the common good.  It will be a stimulating discussion!

    • 23 posts
    July 11, 2021 8:40 AM BST

    Maybe adversarial politics starts at the hustings - should we choose our candidates by a different method and elect them through a different method too? A more than one party system is likely to generate some form of adversarial politics, it is how to put this 'hot air' to the better use of the nation. We've all heard the 'policies not personalities' line trotted out before. I've no suggestions on this front other to go back to the likely very useful inputs (especially if they're local not parachuted in) of candidates/also-rans during the life of the parliament - i.e. don't be so dismissive of what may prove to be very constructive inputs and hopefully tension lessening inputs too. This is not to say one should ignore the Whips, but one should be mindful of the desires of the local electorate - those who put you in the Palace of Westminster.

    • 23 posts
    July 11, 2021 8:51 AM BST

    Personally I think Kevin's more or less hit the nail on the head - our adversarial system doesn't serve us well and is found in other realms of life not just politics. To my shame I've not anything much better to suggest, other than (by some method) taking-in the ideas of those not elected.

    • 23 posts
    July 21, 2021 9:52 AM BST

    At a Conservative press conference in the mid-70s Ted Heath stressed his willingness as Prime Minister to bring non-Conservatives into a government of ‘all the talents’. Now where have I heard something similar before? Mmm. (Would that quieten the adversarial politics naysayers?).

    • 23 posts
    July 23, 2021 9:28 AM BST

    In a flight of fancy and to use a Pink Floydism - Is There Anybody Out There?

    Pink Floyd – Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live (CDr) - Discogs

    • 124 posts
    July 27, 2021 3:22 PM BST

    The output of the Probably42 Discussion Groups is now available at Adversarial Politics.

    How could we tackle Adversarial Politics with a different but more effective system, or is it OK as it is?

    • 23 posts
    July 27, 2021 3:29 PM BST

    I suppose that by its nature politics is adversarial for the most part. That said, can we be more constructive in how we deal with the ideas of those seen as 'former adversaries'?

    • 26 posts
    July 27, 2021 3:41 PM BST

    I agree, Chris, that MPs should be more mindful of their constituents' views. The problem is, how does the MP get to know what the views of the majority of their constituents on any one topic are? I know they have their weekly clinics, but they're more for sorting out grievances and problems etc. In any event, it's only a tiny majority, I think, of people who engage with their MPs. That's where our proposed digital system could help.

    Even if the problem could be solved, I'm not at all sure that it would help (if help is needed, and you might have gathered from our meeting that I'm not at all convinced that it is) reduce the adversarial nature of our politics.


    That's not to say that I don't think our political system can be improved - of course it could. However, I think that changing the voting system and instituting our proposed digital ideas system are far more important and will have much greater impact than worrying about the odd insult in PMQs.

    • 23 posts
    July 27, 2021 4:18 PM BST

    Yes Dave I think the PMQ finger wagging and insult hurling is all part of the 'parliamentary drama' and yet the wider populace probably deserves a better body politic than that they currently get.

    Many of those that turn up at constituency surgeries/clinics are the people there with an personal axe to grind, not necessarily those with a wider view. So maybe we need written into the 'constitution' (if only we had one) that MPs should during the life of a parliament at least acknowledge the views/opinions of both their electorate and other candidates for their seat when they ran.

    • 26 posts
    July 27, 2021 5:24 PM BST

    I'd certainly agree with your last point, Chris.