Is UK currently adversarial politics?

The nature of the politics of a country at any one time is often described either as adversarial or consensual.

Adversarial politics refers to a state of sharp divide on the political landscape, two or more distinct ideologies, very different from each other, competing for the Public vote. These two distinctive trains of thought hold next to nothing in common with each other, and thus, with such undeniable contrast and the passionate disagreement that ensues, the political system around them is dubbed 'adversarial'.

Consensual politics refers to a state of considerable overlap of policy and thought between the major forces of the politics of a country, by which, as opposed to the discord of adversarial politics, there is a degree of agreement and/or similarity between the policies and directions of the major political forces of said nation.

The UK is currently in a period of Consensus politics, all three major Parties, (Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrats), largely in agreement on the ends to be sought and less so on the means with which to reach them in Britain's current political landscape. Commonly, the differences in Consensus politics occur not so much in the ends to reach, but the means through which to do so.

For example, on the UK's current financial situation, all three Parties have expressed their belief that the deficit accumulated during the Financial Crisis must be neutralised (the end is agreed upon), but whereas the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats argue that the UK's debt should be cut through large Public Sector cuts and small tax rises (of a ratio of 80:20), Labour support a greater balance between Public Sector cuts and tax rises, (proposing instead a ratio of 65:35). Therefore, despite the substantial amount of agreement regarding the ends to reach, the means with which to reach them remains controversial.

As recently as the 1970s and 1980s, however, UK politics was bitterly adversarial, the hard Right ideology of Margaret Thatcher and the Conservatives clashing with the hard Left of Michael Foot and Labour - both parties fiercely disagreed upon policy and how best to govern Britain. It was only when Tony Blair became Labour Prime Minister in 1997 that Britain's politics became consensual once more after the sourness of the Thatcher era, with Blair's swinging of Labour more to the centre ground leading to a large degree of overlap with the Conservative viewpoint.

The UK is currently in a period of Consensual, as opposed to Adversarial, politics.