News came out this week that a nascent centrist party is in the works, guided by 50 million quid and a rich chap named Simon Franks. Hands up: I’ve known all about this for several months now. In fact, I know of several such schemes, all of them uncoordinated with each other, all of them centring around a moneyed bloke who is convinced he can be the next Macron, demonstrating in turn a lack of knowledge about politics and of Macron’s rise. They all think that politics is easy and that, having run successful businesses, they would obviously know how to run the country better than the fools sitting in the House of Commons as we speak. The old “run the country like a business” routine that Trump is currently in the midst of definitively proving doesn’t work in other words.
If you hang around Westminster, you’ll have heard all about a new centrist force before – so much so it has become a cliché. Yes, yes, we’ve heard all this before, I might go and start a centrist party for fun this afternoon, ha ha ha. Except, for what is supposedly a patently silly idea, a lot of people feel pretty upset by it all. HM official opposition felt the need to comment on it directly, as did about half the PLP. A lot of political pundits have also written articles about how stupid an idea this is, somewhat contradicting their point in the process.
The question really is, would such a centrist party work? Yes, but as ever, there is only one way: enough currently sitting MPs have to break off from the party they are now in and join together as a new party. Furthermore, said new party would need to be large enough (as in have enough MPs) to form at the very least the official opposition. This cannot be done from outside of politics, obviously.
The notion that the British public mistrusts all politicians and that you can smash the system from outside is always shown to be fallacious. When I worked on the Yes to AV campaign, the idea was that while the No side would put up politicians, we’d have “ordinary folk” as spokespeople. It was an utter failure: turns out people consider politicians rather informative when it comes to political matters. They may not like politicians, but they accept that they know a thing or two about politics, while “ordinary folk”, you know, like wealthy businessmen who have 50 million quid to wave around, might know somewhat less.
Problem is, the MPs seem to be waiting for something outside of politics to infiltrate it. Some sign that the whole venture isn’t as risky as it appears. Given that isn’t going to happen in all probability, we could be stuck where we are for some time yet. Unless, of course, the Tories do something ultra-stupid in regards to Brexit, but I highly doubt it at this stage. If you want to stop Corbyn, you might have to vote Tory at the next election; if you want to kick the Tories out, you may have to put up with Corbyn as PM.