Centrism is needed in British politics now more than ever

5 Jul 2017

A pervasive idea that has emerged from the recent general election is that in order to win, consensus is not the answer, but rather that voters need a definitively left or right-wing ideology.


With the ‘left’ of the Conservative’s looking embittered, the ‘right’ of the Labour Party appearing to have been silenced after Corbyn’s success, and the Liberal Democrats failing to make genuine breakthroughs, it appears that the centrists have been cast away.   


But before we subscribe ourselves, to the Corbynite’s or Tory Brexiteers’ view of society, it is important to realise what election result was - a hung parliament. The electorate were offered the most right-wing party in over a decade, and Labour offered their most left-wing manifesto since Michael Foot, and the British people were virtually split down the middle.


Neither Labour nor the Conservatives won this election. May is clinging onto a minority government backed by the DUP, having run the worst election campaign in post-war history. Meanwhile, Labour were still fifty-five seats behind and yet are celebrating losing an election.


But the parties’ centrists like Blair and Cameron, who both won more than one election, continue to be denounced. A post-Brexit society plays a role in this. Unlike the left of the Labour party, and the right of the Tory party, the centrists struggle to accept that people have voted to leave the EU.


But the reality is that 401 MPs represent constituencies that voted Leave, and the only party that supported the potential idea of remaining achieved just twelve MPs, further reducing the power of centrist politics.


The bookmakers make David Davis and Jeremy Corbyn the next two favourites to be prime minister - a dark thought for many. It is time for centrism to develop a new message, separate from that of Blair, Brown or Cameron, do its time on the Backbenches, and then come back, possibly in the form of a new party, and take on the hard left and right.


The referendum has shaken up British politics, leaving centrists like Chuka Umunna and Liz Kendall in the wilderness, for now. Nevertheless, as we learnt from the events of last year, politics can change very quickly. Whilst centrists currently feel neglected, their values are needed more than ever in a deeply divided Britain.







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