With thanks to Evolve Politics (CLICK HERE) for the above image
You may well have read over the last few days (CLICK HERE) about the potential formation of a new ‘Centrist’ political party. This is apparently to “fill the void” that, allegedly, currently exists in UK politics. My favourite saying in association with this is when people say they feel ‘politically homeless’. To be clear, of course every one has the right to their view, and their views being heard. However, they have been, and are being heard; I suppose it depends on what you call ‘Centrist’. The Labour party’s fantastic Manifesto at last year’s General Election, as we know from the data recorded, appealed to a huge, wide-ranging amount of people; different ages, different ethnic groups, different locations in the UK, those in the city and those in smaller towns etc.
This came as a shock to the media and, let us be honest, a large section of the Westminster bubble. That, demonstrably, is because millions of people-Labour increased its vote share more than any other time since 1945-who previously felt ‘politically homeless’, and certainly not listened to, found they now had a home worth fighting for. Whether they were in the Labour party or not, policies which have been repeatedly majority-popular in poll after poll over the last few decades, were, for the first time, collectively, an option to vote for and support. That Manifesto was put together with input from all members of the party-elected, officials, ordinary members etc. They were listened to and the public responded. Of course Labour did not win the election, but given the almost total media hostility, and polling figures, in just six weeks, Labour came from “no chance” to “very nearly there” with the biggest turnaround ever recorded. This was done via brilliant campaigning from most in Labour, and a legally obliging fairer hearing from the broadcast media in that 6 week campaign. Those factors, and the results of them, are not a coincidence.
Speaking in non-specific, general terms, while many in Labour are still dazzled by the ability of a tiny few hostile critics having the voice the size of a huge majority, via (literally) their mates and former university colleagues in the mainstream media, (and therefore the narrative being set as something it very much isn’t), many are also dazed and confused by those from within the party who seem keen on this idea of a ‘Centrist’ party. Backed by a multi-millionaire, focussing on policies that are being rejected almost every where in the world, election after election, with potential involvement from people who have been roundly rejected as relevant contemporary political figures, and history proving them wrong on almost every major issue. Sounds good, right? I can hear you asking me now for the link to join!
What seems to be passing every one by about this story, is that the ‘Centrist’ party this loud, repeating voice craves to fill the “huge void” that is allegedly ‘the centre ground’ already exists. It is called the Liberal Democrats. It has been around for decades. Maybe, in the form of some political analysis, those wishing to form this new party, should take a look at how the Liberal Democrats are performing currently, and how they did in the last two General Elections. Such analysis may well conclude that the “huge void” turns out to be a minor pothole. In a well-trodden road, that, famously, has been navigated down by the SDP already. As part of the political analysis, those seeking to fill potholes may wish to take a look at how that turned out (and why). Oh, and the people just love projects openly supported by multi-millionaires, don’t they? What is the logo here? “We are the elite, but we are a better version. Honest!”
It has been heartening to see the almost en masse rejection of the idea of such a party from Labour MPs, members, other elected officials, associated-Unions etc. MPs from all ‘sides’ of the party have been quite explicit about this. This, again, suggests that the loud, repeating voice is representative of a really tiny minority. Does it mean they are ‘wrong’? No, of course not-as I say, every one is entitled to their opinion and to being heard. The trouble is, this potential, shall we call them ‘Pothole party’ (yes, we shall), has been heard. Lots. Daily in fact, in almost all mainstream media and the political commentators and ‘experts’ repeating the “people are calling for a party to fill the huge political void” line. Perhaps the bigger question is why are those who blew May’s majority to smithereens not being heard, or represented proportionately, in the same mainstream media? Does it not seem a tad absurd to have a minority voice as the majority media narrative? In what way is the mainstream media representing all majority views? It demonstrably isn’t. Therefore, why are those aforementioned media and political representatives still being given the majority platform?
This leads on to why it still confuses many to hear of rejected leaders like Nick Clegg (sorry, Sir Nick Clegg) and our former leader and vocal current Labour critic, Tony Blair, being given the volume of air time that they are in relation to this. I know those closely associated with New Labour, some still in the party as MPs, put a lot of importance on polling. They will note, even when Jeremy Corbyn was supposedly very unpopular, he was still polling way higher than Tony Blair CLICK HERE). To be fair, Tony Blair is not advocating himself as leader of any new party, but neither does his explicitly rule it out (CLICK HERE). That, of course, is up to him, his select support specific to this, and the millionaire(s).
May I suggest that these calling for a new ‘Pothole party’ afford themselves a period of self-reflection and humility. Tony Blair says Labour is currently being led “from the hard left”. This despite the 2017 General Election result and Labour becoming the largest political party in Western Europe, with way more members than even when Blair was at his peak. I would also like to suggest to these same people that they are, demonstrably, not the ‘mainstream’, ‘majority’, representative of a ‘huge void’ or, indeed, ‘moderate’. Just because you have been proven wrong, again, does not mean this justifies the undermining and conscious sabotage from some within this minority. Nor does it mean those who disagree with them (i.e. the majority) have an opinion that is more or less valid than their minority view. There is, however, a huge difference between the right to disagree and be heard, and the systematic, endemic, ego-driven lack of acceptance of reality and subsequent knowing acts of jeopardy.
The impression given is that these internal Labour critics would, genuinely, rather see a Conservative government than a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn or someone with enough resolve and strength to stick to the same policy platform; the majority-popular policy platform. I would hope this is a projection these people are not conscious of, and will immediately try to rectify. To actually ferment and promote such self-sabotage is a betrayal of the party founders, members, other elected officials, party officials and the UK population. Consciously attempting to make it “our (minority) way or bust!” means ushering in more hurt and misery for us all. How can that ever be an acceptable outcome of a minority agenda? Particularly as it would never be accepted or tolerated by these same people were the roles reversed. How Jeremy Corbyn sticks to his calm, measured, diplomatic, compassionate, forgiving, abuse-ignoring stance is beyond me. But thank goodness he does, for all our sakes.
My challenge to those stuck on this hamster’s wheel, is that you can tire yourself out moving nowhere, going around and around and around, or you can accept reality and help end the eight years of austerity, misery, regression and decimation of our country, while still having your voice heard and represented. Proportionately, of course.
Adam Samuels – Clwyd South Media & Community Engagement Representative