The more time I spend in the States, especially in the run-up to an election, the more grateful I am for the UK’s Liberal Democrat party. Not because I expect them to win many seats, nor even because I’m likely to vote for them, but because I think having a third party is immensely important.
- It reduces the extreme ‘us or them’ polarisation that we see in the US.
- It means that most policy decisions are not simply black and white; and when there are only two options on a particular topic, you’ve got an odd number of entities and hence a two-to-one split rather than simply ‘my word against yours’
- A ‘central’ party starts to become attractive if either of the others goes too far to the left or right; this keeps them in check
- It allows for greater movement of voters. It’s much easier to feel that you’re moving a bit in one direction or the other than to ‘cross over to the opposition’