Thursday 27th October
What centre? There is no centre anymore. The post-war consensus has floated off into the sunset, like our remaining aircraft carrier devoid of planes or ideas. Tony Blair always declared that elections were won from the centre of the Political Spectrum, and both ‘New Labour’ and ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ were attempts by Blair and Cameron to both seize the middle-ground and to detoxify their political brand; Labour from Economic Mismanagement and the Tories from being the Nasty party. Both succeeded for a while, but in reality they also benefited from having weak oppositions, or what at the time were considered weak.
The Centre Ground is some mythical place where the worst excesses of Capitalism are held in check and mild doses of Socialism applied to heal the wounds those very excesses may have caused; it is supposed to be a place where most people can feel comfortable. But actually unless incomes are rising faster than costs and people generally feel better off it matters (in electoral terms) little whether the pendulum is swinging one way or the other or more or less statically in the middle. Every Government which attempts to reform and remedy perceived unfairness ends up creating winners and losers; the winners rarely thank them but the losers can often make the pendulum swing back a bit.
We now have a Government which was elected on 39% of those who voted, actually only about 30% of those entitled to vote. It is undertaking the so-called ‘wishes of the people’ or 52% of those who voted to leave the EU. Parliament, and even the ruling Tory Party M.P.s are well short of 50% in favour of this, but it will happen anyway. This is the new Centre Ground; somewhere between Nigel Farage sipping his pint and Boris promising the earth, not forgetting a pair of kitten heels. Is it any better than the left wing Corbyn or the Tory Toffs limping off stage-right? Only time will tell, but it certainly is a long way from the Centre.