There are many arguments that suggest sexuality is fluid and that a person’s preferences change throughout their lifetime and the same applies to gender. The Telegraph recently reported that the number of NHS sex change operations have tripled since 2008 so, with this type of fluidity being brought out into the open and prejudice around it being rightly challenged, where do we stand on political fluidity?
Most people have heard someone say, “I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Tory,” or “I’ve always been Labour and always will be.” To have remained ‘loyal’ to one party forever is paraded out as a badge of honour and those who openly change parties, whether they be an MP, a political staffer or even someone who is not directly involved in the political mechanisms, is deemed not to have a credible voice or even, to be disloyal.
Many factors shape political attitudes, logically, the more politically aware and active a child’s family are will sway them to hold the same beliefs as their parents. Financial circumstances, location, education, gender and race all play a part in how someone swings politically but why, especially as some of these factors can change, is there an expectation that a political belief should be set in stone?
In Theresa May’s first PMQ’s on 20th July, anti-Corbyn, Labour MP for Copeland, Jamie Reed thanked the new Prime Minister for her support on Trident. Twitter and Facebook went into overdrive as people rushed to their keyboards to condemn a Labour MP for thanking a Tory, there were calls for his deselection, for him to join the Tories and numerous comments about his disloyalty. There is no doubt that Mr Reed used his time to attempt to damage Jeremy Corbyn further, however, 140 Labour MPs voted for Trident, the Conservatives voted for Trident why was he so wrong to acknowledge this or, does being an MP for one party mean that you have to object vocally to everything the opposite party says, even if it something that you both agree on? Surely taking this stance is an insult to democracy. Shouting about what divides us is all too common in Parliament, in life and on social media, so on the few occasions when there is agreement in the Chamber, can one person not recognise this without being called a traitor? And why is it that a politician is considered disloyal unless they play the game of, ‘you are not on my team so I will pretend that I don’t agree even when I do.’
Attitudes need to evolve, political parties change, leaders change, policies change and the people taking part in all of it change. Few middle-aged people can say that they want the same now as they did as when they were 18, 25 or even 30, their financial circumstances, their employment, their health, marital status, child status, everything, changes throughout a lifetime they develop and evolve and therefore, their politics must be allowed to change with them without fear of prejudice.
It is time to dig down into the constituency associations, which have been run by the same group of people seemingly forever and make them understand the benefits of accepting the fluidity of political beliefs and help them to remove the barriers they have put in place to prevent people, who they don’t consider to be ‘one of us,’ from joining. They need to remove the partisan blinkers and accept that people change and those leaving one party to be involved in another are not essentially spies from the other side, this paranoid thinking and inability to embrace change prevents grassroots involvement and stops the associations from growing.
There is nothing wrong with supporting and being involved in one political party for life but the expectation that everyone who wants to be involved in politics needs to pick a side and stay there no matter what only serves to promote disengagement in the whole process.