Tories, Blairites and the “Centre-Ground” Myth

by Charlie_East_West on October 7, 2015


It is all about narrative. The current narrative within British politics is that the Tory Party has captured the “centre ground” of politics, a place vacated by Labour’s “lurch to the left.”

It is yet another example of a narrative and trap being set by Tories and right wing commentators to hoodwink the public into thinking that the Tories have a big tent ideology that embraces “hard working people” whilst protecting the security of individuals and communities as the self styled “workers party” in this country. Corbyn-led Labour meanwhile, are being portrayed as a bunch of protestors who are hell bent in practising the arts political envy, protest and extremist tendencies perched from the far left.

This narrative is dangerous, exploitative and fundamentally wrong.

The Tories are in no way occupying the centre-ground. Instead, even compared to the worst elements of the Thatcher era, the Tories of 2015 have an increasingly extremist approach to the worst elements of neoliberalism. Put it this way, how can the Tories ever be considered as a centre-ground party when Theresa May argues that immigrants present a “threat to a cohesive society”? How can the Tories ever be considered as a centre-ground party when their ideological template of austerity is destroying the social fabric and dignity of millions of people? How can the Tories ever be considered as a centre-ground party when £1.6billion is spent on a drone plane rather than spending £1.6billion on giving every single nurse a 10% pay rise? How can the Tories ever be considered as a centre-ground party when they toxify our poltical landscape with the bedroom tax, fracking, Trident and zero hours contracts?

The Tories increasingly extremist approach goes far beyond their own deficit reduction targets (which have failed). It has instead become right-wing politics on steroids. A risky second-term Conservative template to diminish public services, hammer the poor, shrink the state and privatise at all costs.

If the centre-ground is rampant privatisation, the destruction of public services, infantilisation of the poor and vulnerable, lower taxes for the super rich and Neo-Con principles of war – then the centre-ground should be an uninhabited place of residence for the electorate.

The Blairites add to the holy-grail myth of the centre-ground. Since Corbyn’s stunning leadership win, the ghoulish presence of New Labour has come back to haunt British politics. Like Mrs Rochester found screaming in the attic, Tony Blair recently stated that New Labour principles still hold the key to unlocking future election success for Labour, he added that, “I am convinced the Labour Party succeeds best when it is in the centre ground.” What does Blair really mean by the “centre ground”? What is the ideology of the centre-ground in 2015? If the centre-ground is by nature, providing a set of principles and policies that appeal to the majority of people, then surely the template for the centre-ground is very different in 2015 to that of 1997?

Blairites, aided by their friends in the media, have argued that Labour won in 1997 as a result of moving right, to capture the “centre ground”. Not quite. In reality, Labour’s huge victory owed far more people becoming sick and tired of the Tories. Since their high water mark in 1997, Labour’s support has been steadily dwindling despite being under the auspices of New Labour. So much so, Blairism has become a toxic brand name in British politics due to their deregulated toadying of unethical financial services and culpability towards an illegal war in Iraq.

When Blairites and Tories talk about moving to the centre-ground they are pushing a myth. If the centre-ground is a warm and snug place where most people sit politically, it also needs to take into account that where the majority of people sit politically can change, and often it changes quite rapidly. The mass movements of change in Greece, Spain and to an extent Scotland have shown this.

If it is the case that the centre-ground embraces a form of neoliberalism that gets the public in a tizz about immigration of so-called benefit “scroungers”, it can also be argued that an opposite progressive mood can be seen on many issues. There is a general mood towards supporting the NHS against attacks by the Tories; anger and resentment over the unethical banks; dismay over tax evading corporates; questions asked about military interventions in the Middle East and a complete lack of trust on the behaviour and corruption within our establishment.

These attitudes are now mainstream – and as such, they become the centre ground – and are exactly the opposite to what successive Blairite and Tory governments have been providing. Therefore, the mainstream centre-ground views out within the general public are often completely out of sync with the political policy being framed at Westminster.

The centre-ground landscape is where Westminster, big business and an agenda fuelled mainstream media tells us it is, despite a different mood landscape out in the country. The moniker of the “centre-ground” is just there to justify any right-wing set of policies which might be involved whatever the mass of people might think. Their con-trick is to then find a way to justify right-wing policies by hoodwinking the public into believing that it is actually a centre-ground ideology.

This presents an opportunity for Corbyn-led Labour. If they can find a way to develop a narrative that is compatable towards views of the real centre ground in Britain – the millions struggling due to cuts and austerity, job insecurity, disaffected youth voters, anger at corporates and the dismay in which our tax money is not being used effectively to get decent public services – then they will resonate. The blindingly obvious theme here is that Corbyn-led Labour are already advocating all of this.

So, paradoxically, Labour have not lurched to the left. They are in the trenches of the real centre-ground. Likewise, the Tories are not occupying the centre-ground, they have lurched to the right. Unfortunately, but predictably, the media will never tell you any of this because they want you to believe that the Tories or indeed the Blairites have invaded the centre-ground. Don’t believe this. The centre-ground invasion of the Tories and Blairites is nothing more than a myth.

If David Cameron has become the self-styled custodian of the centre-ground, then God only knows what the right-wing looks like.

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