As mainstream political parties continue to fail centrists must fill the power vacuum

24th May 2019

The UK continues to be polarised by the many issues that it faces. Brexit, anti-Muslim bigotry and antisemitism dominate political discourse in this country, particularly within the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. The country’s two traditional parties have moved away from big tent politics and have retreated to their respective corners, flying the flag of the hard right and the crank left, leaving this country divided, more susceptible to populism and ever more characterised by polarisation and hatred. Accordingly, we should ask ourselves why a popular political party with a third way approach hasn’t been able to emerge in a period where disastrous political events repeatedly continue to plague this country.

As a proponent of a mixed economy and policies that would be traditionally classed as social democratic, the only political party I have ever voted in my life has been the Labour Party. However, for many years now I have chosen to abstain from voting, frankly because I no longer feel connected to the established political parties. I even abstained from the referendum on the EU, making little effort to participate in a democratic process that many across the world could only dream of being afforded.

Polarisation in the UK is increasing on a day-to-day basis. The modern day Labour Party has become to representative of the crank left, mired in the argument over antisemitism. Their blind spot to Islamism runs parallel with the problem of antisemitism. They continue reflexively to blame western foreign policy for issues relating to Islamist politics, conveniently forgetting that foreign policy does little to explain the participation of Islamists from western countries in the enslavement, murder and rape of Yezidis in Iraq.

Furthermore, Labour’s confused approach towards Brexit hasn’t exactly offered a persuasive alternative to the failings of the government. The proposal that, like Turkey, Britain should obtain access to the Customs Union, does not provide a persuasive case for our future political and economic prosperity. It also forgets that the current status of Turkey is, at heart, part of the transitional preparation for EU membership. A Brexit with a Customs Unions access is quite frankly a demotion from our current status with little independent rationale.

The Conservative Party has also been plagued with issues that are relevant to the issues facing the Labour Party. It continues to be criticised for the anti-Muslim bigotry within the party. Inflammatory comments have let to the suspension of over fifty members. Astonishingly, some members engaged in abuse of the Conservative  Home Secretary, Savid Javid.

Moreover, the approach of both the Conservative and Labour Parties towards Brexit has been so poor that it has secured a clear poll lead for the Brexit Party in the European Parliamentary elections. We should remember that the Brexit Party has taken over the role of UKIP, despite the fact that the referendum has been held, and won. The Conservative Party might have regained those votes had it not been for the Government’s failure to secure any species of Brexit deal that could command a majority in Parliament.

This country needs is new approach, that addresses our real problems, and eschews extremism. Centrist political parties such as the Liberal Democrats and Change UK offer little  hope and provide an unpopular alternative. What is needed is a political alliance of centrists: one that can challenge both the anti-Muslim bigotry & antisemitism issues of the hard right and crank left, and one that offers a rational and pragmatic approach towards Brexit.

However desirable such an outcome, there is little immediate prospect of it emerging.