The case for a new centrist political party in Britain

The case for a new centrist political party in Britain

There’s a lot of talk these days
about the need for a new centre party in Britain. Janan Ganesh, our
political commentator, has done a lot of thinking and
writing about this subject. Janan, is this really
something that could happen, a new party somewhere
between Corbyn’s Labour Party and Theresa May’s
Conservative Party? Well, ever since Emmanuel Macron
was elected president of France in 2017 at the head of a
completely new centre party, sympathisers in this country
have wondered whether they could pull off the same trick. And the problem is that
the French electoral system is completely different. It’s presidential. We have a parliamentary system
where you field candidates in 600 plus constituencies. And there’s also a pretty
strong partisan tradition in this country. The Labour Party dates back
to the Industrial Revolution and the emergence
of a working class. The Conservative Party
is one of the oldest in the democratic world. And so you’re trying to break
through a lot of cultural, but also structural resistance
in the British system. And how much is this
driven by Brexit, the idea that somehow Brexit throws
all the cards in the air, you have a realignment with
a new, perhaps, centrist but also pro-European party? Brexit has everything
to do with this. Because even though remain
lost the referendum, it was a 48% share of the
vote, which is big enough– if you translate that
into a general election– to win a sweeping victory. Now, no centre party would win
all 48% but they could aspire to winning over quite a lot
of voters who are middle of the road, not
phenomenally pro-European, but on balance
nervous about Brexit. And those voters feel
unrepresented either by Labour or the Conservatives right now. The additional problem with
the centre party, of course, is that you can set one up now
because you feel that these kinds of votes are not being
represented by the two main parties. And all it takes is for one
of those two parties to change a little bit and move towards
the centre and suddenly the purpose of the new
policy ceases to exist. And so you’re incredibly
vulnerable to events. But the other
point, of course, is where’s the Trump, where’s
the Macron in British politics right now. Yeah, I think people
in my profession tend to underrate how important
just a pure human element is. And in France what
they had was– whatever you think of
him and his policies– a pretty impressive
individual who had, had some ministerial experience
under Francois Hollande, but was young enough
and original thinking enough to represent
the future in Macron. There is no obvious equivalent
of him in this country. So some of the
politicians we’ve been– And he was running in a
presidential campaign, obviously. Completely. And he didn’t have to– he could
build a posse retrospectively, having won the presidential
campaign rather than having to build a party in advance. But there’s no equivalent
of him in this country. People are talking about Nick
Clegg, the former Deputy Prime Minister, David Miliband, who
used to be foreign secretary. And these are people who I think
might be, in the public eye, is a bit shopworn and a
bit over familiar to them. I’d like to offer
you one suggestion for a new face in
British politics, somebody who’s soon
going to be out of a job, perhaps, Arsene
Wenger, somebody who speaks fluent English,
but also European, having led Arsenal to
near oblivion this season. Well, President Macron
makes it his mission to bring back talented
French ex-pats from London. I can think of at least one in
the Islington area who might be available to move this summer. Janan Ganesh, thank you so much.

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29 thoughts on “The case for a new centrist political party in Britain

  1. The new centrist party is a shorthand for a party of social cosmopolitan liberals with conservative fiscal policy.

  2. Why do they look so rough in these videos? It looks like it was filmed in the 80’s or something…nevertheless interesting discussion.

  3. The difference vs Macron's party is more than just electoral systems. Notice he got very little in the parliament and FN cleaned up. "he could build a party retrospectively" … this is an article of faith? Did I miss that?

    The problem is not that the political parties are no longer centrist – its that (across the developed world) the electorate are not blarites anymore. if you dont like the current state of Labour and the Tory parties, provide an alternative to the electorate that takes seriously their concerns (wage stagnation, massive increace in the nation's wealth but they're not getting a share in it, their kids have post grad degrees and no jobs, and they'll be renting their entire lives)

  4. Yes please. Socialism is failing and cannot accommodate everybody. Take pragmatic economic measures and move U.K. towards the centre.

    Re-enter the European Union!

  5. I bet you need one cause muh property. But seriously, you don't really need a new "centrist" party per say. The political establishment just have to implement policies that actually solve problems. You only need to solve wealth and income inequality, unemployment, job security and Jeff Bezos. If you want long more term viability then you must take climate change seriously. You guys are decades too late already for the climate change thing though.

    If the primary didn't filter out Trump then the political system is broken. As for Britain, if all it took was the rants of a drunkard then your policies, rhetoric and ideology simply doesn't resonate with the general population. You guys have been discredited. A new centrist party is just like a serpent shedding it's skin. You might gain short term success only to repeat the failed policies of the past centrist parties. (omg, am I hinting that the political establishment has its share of failures?)

    So why the obsession with centrism? Just because you assume a position in between two extremes doesn't make the centrist position right. As most terms in politics centrism is obsolete. I could use terms free market fundamentalist or neoliberal to describe the same ideology. The connotations might be different but you recognize one when you hear them speak. In the future centrism could mean something entirely different if there was a paradigm shift that displaced the whole spectrum.

  6. How did they manage to speak for that long without mentioning Renew? Centrist, pro-European and with 1000+ candidate applicants throughout the UK., building up from scratch, just as En Marche did.

  7. The Tarquins have finally woken up to the fact that no one in their right mind will vote for the Lib Dems after their disaster in office , propping up the Tories. They're also shitting themselves that Corbyn might usher in a government that rather than target the poorest people in society ; the disabled , single patent households and immigrants , as the Lib Dems and tories do; a Corbyn government might go after their second homes in Tuscany and elaborate tax arrangements.

  8. The Labour party doesn't date back to "the industrial revolution and the emergence of the working class" rather it dates back to the start of the twentieth century -why doesn't he know that ?

  9. Conservatives are right wing? Sorry you lost me there. They haven't been right wing since before Cameron. Maybe the DUP are, but that's it. A centrist party would be to the right of the Tories.

  10. Wasn't the Liberal Democrats meant to be a Centrist party? Maybe they would have done better if they hadn't aligned themselves so rigidly with a campaign to remain, even after a democratic referendum. I am politically homeless at present and would like to see more nuance in politics, including the recognition of pros and cons whether we stay in or leave the EU, (I wouldn't be surprised if we never actually leave). If there is to be a new political party, I think it's a mistake to come down hard on one side or another regarding the EU.

  11. I’m stoked about this! It’s important to have some catastrophic climate change, semi privatised public services, a few imperial wars, some tax evasion and take the centre ground on racism, misogyny and transphobia. Viva the third way 2.0!

  12. I'm not a supporter of the Lib Dems but I'm surprised that they don't even get a mention in the discussion apart from a nod to Nick Clegg when he was Deputy Prime Minister in the coalition. Selective journalism?

  13. NEEDS to happen. Corbyn and his lefty loonies should still be on the back benches, and on the other side you have the most corrupt self serving and incompetent political party in western Europe (aka the tories). Who are winning elections with 62% of the population voting for other parties. So democracy is dead in the UK and it's time for a new party that the vast majority of the population could vote for. Nobody wants Tories, lib dems or labour so someone needs the bottle to stand up and create a new sensible centre party for everyone

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