As democracy is being rigorously defended in the Supreme Court, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are forever engaged in a pointless war of words. Politicians and activists are feuding while the disillusioned public watch on in disgust.

First published in September 2019.

Don’t you just hate it when a constitutional crisis springs up, and the best people to bring us out are pulling each other’s hair? To Labour and the Liberal Democrats, it would seem as though the nursery staff have left the building, allowing the children to fight amongst themselves and set fire to the furniture. It really does deserve such analogy – because it’s bickering at a time when common sense must prevail.

I’m asking politely, guys, for the sake of the country, end this cynical conflict.

It’s been a brilliant example of one-upmanship spread across party lines. For every insult or subtle snide jibe at something, the other hits back with blustering and ‘How dare you’ faux-outrage. For example, take Jo Swinson’s speeches at the Lib Dem conference. Putting the Prime Minister and Jeremy Corbyn in the same category of men unfit for office. This was accompanied by the usual volley of jabs at the Labour leader’s socialism, or the party’s internal problems. Then, a retaliation as predictable as a Brendan O’Neill column, with Emily Thornberry calling the Lib Dems ‘the Taliban’.

It’s pathetic really. I don’t agree with either side on the policy of revoke. I don’t think it should be automatic without a referendum, but the Lib Dems certainly aren’t extremists. When discourse has disintegrated to such a point where opposition parties are literally mocking each other, what hope do we have at getting out of this crisis?

Emily Thornberry hopes that the Labour conference will bring a more pro-Remain vigour, sealing the policy of the party once and for all. It needs to be clarified – something to explain in three words, not a long preamble about deals and positions. Honestly, the Labour Party’s had more positions on Brexit than the Kama Sutra.

It also pays to blind oneself to the past, if the present is all that should matter. The Lib Dems lead with their rhetoric of division, suggesting that Corbyn wants Brexit and so on. Labour will hit back with their austerity criticism, beating a dead horse with a very well-greased stick. What’s the point? Why bother? It’s not getting us anywhere, this cynical game of snakes and ladders.

My late mother had an excellent line whenever my sister and I were bickering. She’d shout, “If you don’t stop fighting, I’ll bang your heads together!” Maybe my mother’s hard-hitting ethos would be useful in the current ‘Race to the Sea’.

The reality is that if both parties continue to fight, a strong platform to counter Boris Johnson’s vehicle for disaster would not be effective. What happened to the Church House Declaration? I had high hopes that there was finally progress on a working alliance. The public are watching the best hopes of ridding us of Brexit fight amongst themselves – and we are despairing for our futures.

The opposition parties must formally agree on a way to work together. It should involve full transparency, clarity, and a single position. Above all else, the rhetoric of division must end. It serves no purpose but to fracture and frustrate.

Yes, you may not agree with the person opposite. But there’s more at stake than pride.🔷

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[This is an original piece, first published by the author in on 20 September 2019. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: Dreamstime/Skypixel.)