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Behind Politics


Even though the divide between the Conservatives and the Left is not so aggressively apparent in the United Kingdom as the United States, the election issues are quite similar. Immigration, for one, is a contentious one. While those on the right of the political spectrum would like to implement policies that would ‘actually’ limit the entry of ‘illegals’, those on the left would prefer ‘humanitarian’ concerns to prevail above all else. The development of Britain as a multicultural society is proving a considerable challenge, not least because of the increase in radicalisation over the past more than three decades.

In the UK, particularly, the people are today more focused on improving the ‘quality of life’ that is threatened by high cost of living, stagnant wages, the negative effects of Brexit, the decline in education and health services, etc. This has generated a powerful impulse in support of the Labour Party and the ruling Conservatives under Rishi Sunak are expected to lose quite badly. The Conservative economic policies, premised on Britain’s ability to compete globally, which has been on the decline, requires a transformational approach of the kind that took place under Margaret Thatcher. Unfortunately, after the continuous change in Prime Ministers under the Conservatives, Sunak has nowhere that kind of clout. The Brits want more of a welfare state, no matter if there isn’t enough in the bank to pay the bills.

In the US, on the other hand, while populism is the force behind Donald Trump’s challenge, it is in the other direction. It is the ruling Democrats that incline towards left of centre politics and economics. The difference between the two parties is stark. The US has also been able to transform its economy to keep up with the times, unlike the UK. This trend is more similar to that being seen in Europe these days.

Sunak could not benefit from his India connection, particularly with the proposed FTA not taking off. Even people of Indian origin are reportedly not entirely in his favour, preferring the sops offered by Labour. Is this a global trend in the democratic world? Was its impact also felt in the recent Indian elections? Is there nowhere a preferable formula that balances market economics with distributive justice? Will it push the world towards diminished democracy? The only message that comes out clear is that immigration is proving to be the disruptive force. The direction it takes in societies will decide the shape of things to come.