After the 2016 referendum, when did people stop just holding a firm or ambiguous position in a debate and become formed into parties?
Whereas people were expected to move forward for the common good, following the result, they continued to believe their 'side' was for the common good and the other 'side' the opposite. As a consequence, some of those expected to implement the result remained (if you will excuse the word) committed to their version of what that meant, which was not that expected by those on the other side of the debate.
Two new parties were formed in parliament and across the nation that had not really existed in as real a sense before the vote. These became ever-more binary and entrenched because each believed it had a mission that transcended their actual political party. Bitterness ensued.
The breaking of the red wall by the Conservatives was illusory because it was only the electoral triumph of one of the new parties over the other and little to do with the normal party politics. No voters anywhere belong to Labour, Conservative or Lib Dem, but they do belong to their new party because they have actively chosen it and actively defend it.
The result at Westminster is that MPs from each of the main parties, but now representing one of the new parties, have become other than the party philosophies they were meant to espouse. So, we have players on the pitch cheered on or insulted and ridiculed by the fans on the social-media stands.
All the political leaders have to do now is wear a Brexit or remain hat to do anything they want and follow a collectivist agenda that restricts the individual at the expense of the state - whichever state.
Each party was given complete support by its followers and authority by the electorate to get Brexit done, or stopped. The instruction was vague enough for that authority to be translated into entitlement over other areas as in get the pandemic done and now, get climate change/net zero done - at any cost.
People wondered why Boris was not more of the natural Conservative that he had seemed, but the tasks he was set seemed more easily achieved through collectivism. The direction of travel seeming a lot different from the emphasis on sovereignty expected.
Ideally, a government should be judged on how much legislation it repeals rather than introduces. Legitimately, a government is given the power to serve, not rule. Emergencies may mean drastic measures, but only temporarily. The emergency of the pandemic looks like it will overlap with that of a climate emergency with no end date.
There has been no opposition to those collectivist, totalitarian tendencies, far from it, but a parliamentary consensus whereby the other parties insist on more virus restrictions and earlier carbon targets.
One does not need to have read Hayek's Road to Serfdom, to identify where this is all going. National governments, supranational organisations and other interest groups are increasingly looking at remote management of populations (national and global) facilitated by the digital revolution, legislation, cultural relativism, and social & cultural dislocation.
The only cure would appear to be a return to domestic politics and uniting around principles rather than sides.