How the UKs Parliamentary system creates recipe for issues to catch fire

Local elections: Conservatives could face hung parliament

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

Britons voting in the local elections have used council seats to communicate their satisfaction with national parties. Conservatives, specifically Boris Johnson, have borne the brunt of their fury, with the party poised to lose 400 seats or more across England, Wales and Scotland. Local councillors with the party have blamed partygate for the Government’s poor performance. But in another political system, it might not have had the same effect.

Public outcry over partygate has engulfed the Conservative party since 2021, when papers reported that the Prime Minister and his staff had held rule-breaking parties at Number 10.

Pressure immediately piled on Mr Johnson to resign and has intensified in the months following, as Number 10 and the Metropolitan Police announced separate investigations.

The scandal has not left the public’s collective minds, and promises to cause more damage for the Prime Minister as he awaits the findings from both investigations.

One expert has claimed that the intensity is due both to the extent of the Government’s actions and the UK’s parliamentary system.

Speaking to, Elizabeth Carter, an assistant political science professor at the University of New Hampshire College of Liberal Arts, said the first past the post political system has created an “us versus them” dichotomy.

While not an explicit two-party system, the voting practice favours two British political parties rather than the several proportional representation would.

Professor Carter said this type of “institutional environment” could “lead issues to become more politicised than they may in other contexts”.

She added there is an “incentive” for political actors to use the media to shape public opinion.

Shaping public opinion in this way would ultimately extract support from opposing parties, giving them more ground in the first past the post environment.

And it creates a recipe for “an issue to catch fire”, Professor Carter added.

Ultimately, while partygate may seem very British, politicians in other countries also exploit and “over-exploit” political issues.

Professor Carter added: “In other countries, you will find examples of scandals that have been politically exploited – and even over-exploited – and some that were overlooked.”

“In the US, a two-party system coupled with the dominance of Fox News on the right (and with media sources on the left lacking the reach of Fox), means that a lot of ‘democratic scandals’ are picked up, but few Republican scandals have gained similar traction.”

Partygate and Covid rule-breaking scandals have engulfed both sides of the political aisle in recent weeks.

Earlier today, Durham Police announced that it would look into claims that Labour broke lockdown rules during a gathering in April 2021.

Controversy has grown about pictures showing Sir Keir Starmer drinking a beer at Labour’s Durham HQ, and it was later revealed that he had shared a curry with staff, triggering calls from Conservative MPs to relaunch investigations.

While the police force previously concluded there were no regulation breaches in an earlier investigation, the latest inquiries follow “significant new information”.

In a statement, the force said: “Earlier this year, Durham constabulary carried out an assessment as to whether COVID-19 regulations had been breached at a gathering in Durham City on 30 April 2021.

“At that time, it was concluded that no offence had been established and therefore no further action would be taken.

“Following the receipt of significant new information over recent days, Durham constabulary has reviewed that position and now, following the conclusion of the pre-election period, we can confirm that an investigation into potential breaches of Covid regulations relating to this gathering is now being conducted.”

Source: Read Full Article