We have the good fortune to live in a society that for the most part is moderate and tolerant. People might vote Labour, Conservative or Liberal, but they can still get on as friends and colleagues agreeing to differ about such matters. The far-left sold a few newspapers on the street and plotted revolution in bedsits, but they could safely be indulged because we all knew that it wasn’t going to happen. The far-right might snarl from time to time like one of those pitbulls we have to occasionally pass warily on the street its owner strutting, glaring and looking for a fight, but the British electorate always rejected them. But now Labour is run by Marxists and some Jewish people are scared to live in a Britain run by Corbyn, the Lib Dems are nowhere and Brexiteer Conservatives are deeply unhappy with the party leadership. Where next?
The problem I believe goes deeper and further back than merely Brexit. Tony Blair tried to turn Labour into a centrist social democratic party. He rightly took the view that there were a lot of votes to be won in the centre ground. The Conservatives did the same. They too thought there were a lot of votes to be won by ceasing to be quite so Conservative. But the result for the electorate was that we actually ended up with no-choice at all. The difference between New Labour, the Liberals and the Tory Wets was practically speaking nothing. They all supported the EU. None of them really wished to reduce migration to the tens of thousands per year. All of them wanted to use economic growth in order to increase public spending. None of them were willing to try to do anything serious to eliminate the deficit and work towards lowering the national debt. This is the British establishment. It’s tribal politics without distinction and without difference. Tony Blair could equally have led the Conservatives or the Lib Dems, so could Nick Clegg and so could David Cameron. None of them believed in anything very much.
The temptation to always go for the centre ground makes a certain sense. It is necessary to appeal to a wide section of society in order to win an election, but when all parties become centrist do not be surprised when voters who are genuinely left-wing or genuinely right-wing seek another way to bring about change.
New Labour won over the country, but it never won over the party. This is becoming clear now. A large section of Labour voters, quite possibly the majority do not want social democracy. If they did, they would vote for the Lib Dems. Instead they want a chance to build a truly left-wing egalitarian society. If Labour had remained a truly left-wing party, I don’t believe that Corbyn and his friends would ever have had the chance to take it over. I think socialism is a disastrous idea that always leads to poverty and loss of freedom, but many people disagree with me. There has to be someone moderate for these people to vote for. If that someone had been a traditional democratic socialist we might have avoided the revolutionary extremism of Corbyn.
The same goes for the right. Many Conservatives became ever more frustrated with the mush of the “New” Conservative Party. David Cameron promised to reduce immigration to the tens of thousands, promised that Britain would once again live within our means and then make a profit, promised that membership of the EU would be reformed. But none of these things happened. It is for this reason that the country as a whole rebelled in 2016. Ordinary people saw Brexit as the only chance to bring about change, because the party system offered no change. In that sense the referendum in 2016 was a referendum not merely about leaving the EU, but about whether we should have more of the same indefinitely or whether we should finally have something different.
The majority of Conservative supporters want proper Conservatism. We don’t want social democracy. If we did we would vote for the Lib Dems. Those Conservatives who do want social democracy, Ruth Davidson, Nicky Morgan, even perhaps Theresa May might be better asking themselves why they wish to be in the Conservative Party. Is it simply because they like the colour blue, because I can’t find many other respects in which they differ from the Lib Dems or Labour moderates?
Conservative supporters overwhelmingly want the UK to completely leave the EU. Moreover there are large numbers of people who are not Conservatives now who also want us to completely leave the EU. Wanting to leave the EU is a huge vote winner. After all we won the referendum. If the Conservatives could get the UK completely out of the EU, we would win the next election by a landslide.
Theresa May’s Brexit in Name Only is the equivalent of Tony Blair’s Socialism in Name Only. It’s an attempt to fool the electorate by pretending that you are bringing about change when really you are not. Blair’s betrayed the core beliefs of the Labour Party membership. It is for this reason he is so hated and it is for this reason we now have an extremist leading the Labour Party. To avoid a similar fate Theresa May, or some subsequent leader must reaffirm core Conservative beliefs and distinguish our party from the social democracy of the centre. Let there be a genuine choice in British politics between Left Right and Centre. Only in this way can we maintain British moderation and trust in our democracy.
This post was originally published by the author on her original blog: https://www.effiedeans.com/2018/08/getting-out-of-wet-mush.html