Britain’s political system remained in turmoil Monday, virtually leaderless and with the two major parties divided internally. … Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn … faces a likely leadership election after seeing more than two dozen members of his leadership team resign in the past two days.
Alastair Darling, a former chancellor of the exchequer, outlined the extent of the crisis here during an interview with the BBC’s “Today” program on Monday. “There is no government. There is no opposition. The people who got us into this mess — they’ve gone to ground,” he said “How has the United Kingdom come to this position? We have taken this decision and have no plan for the future.”
The underlying factor is economic malaise brought on by a bubble of debt which saw most of the gains flowing to a financial elite. See this graph. Now we enter the aftermath.
Anthony King, a professor of politics at the University of Essex, said the underlying factor is that many people no longer believe that, however imperfect things are economically, they will keep getting better.
In the face of that change in public attitudes, he said, much of the political class “is behaving the way it used to behave, the old arguments, the old fights, the adversarialism.” That has created what he called “the palpable disconnection” between political leaders and ordinary people. “That is true across much of the democratic world,” he added. “How do you put that right?”
British politics could get exciting, with a fundamental re-alignment required by the new situation.
Britain’s political system faces months if not years of instability. Cameron originally recommended that a new prime minister be in place by early October. … The selection of a new prime minister probably will be followed by an early election — almost four years ahead of the next scheduled election — because the next prime minister will need a public endorsement as they begin the process of negotiating a withdrawal from the E.U.
For the Conservative Party, the prospect of an election as soon as possible is attractive because of the chaos within Labour and the prospect of enlarging the narrow majority won in May 2010. It is the prospect of a crippling defeat that caused many Labour members of Parliament, long unhappy with Corbyn, to move swiftly against him now. …
Today, Labour is in a vicious civil war, split between its grass-roots membership and the party’s elected leadership in Parliament. … The party’s deputy leader told Corbyn on Monday that he has lost the confidence of the parliamentary party. But Corbyn has fought to fight on and might have enough grass-roots support to fend off a challenge.
The reality is that neither party enjoys a particularly stable coalition. Tim Bale, a professor of politics at Queen Mary University in London, argued that as cultural issues — here symbolized by immigration — have risen to the fore, they have put pressure on a party system long organized over economic differences… But he added that history and institutional inertia mean there is no prospect of any realignment.