There’s a new centrist party on the way and John McDonnell is not impressed

John McDonnell close-up
James Aitchison

It feels like hardly a month goes by without a new centrist party forming and then quietly disappearing into insignificance. On 8 April, The Guardian published a scoop about a potential centrist party that’s been in the works for over a year. The initiative is the brainchild of LoveFilm founder Simon Franks and it’s already secured over £50 million in funding.

Twitter users were unimpressed. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell perfectly summed up why:

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Big funding, small details

The group has a wealthy donor base formed of business figures and philanthropists, but details on actual policy platforms are scarce. It’s still unclear whether the group will form an actual party or just focus on activism. But The Guardian has revealed a few of their policies:

…  its policy platform appears to be aimed mainly at a liberal, centre-left audience. Potential policy proposals include asking the rich to pay a fairer share of tax, better funding for the NHS and improved social mobility. However, it also backs centre-right ideas on wealth creation and entrepreneurship, and is keen to explore tighter immigration controls.

That the new party has raised such a large sum of money from wealthy donors in the absence of any clear manifesto was particularly galling to some:

https://twitter.com/stavvers/status/982754531351068672

Another week, another centrist party

Others pointed out the inconvenient truth about centrism in the United Kingdom. Namely that it currently holds little appeal to the voting public:

Neoliberal-lite

Many politicians and pundits saw the initiative for what it really is, a desperate move by the establishment to retain the status quo:

What’s in a name?

Of course, every new centrist party needs a name. Radicals UK, Renew, the Centrist Party, and the Liberal Democrats are already taken, so here are some helpful suggestions:

The very definition of redundant

There’s already an established centrist party in the United Kingdom – the Liberal Democrats. And despite running on a pro-remain, economic liberal platform, they only managed to retain four seats in the 2017 general election. The success of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn meanwhile suggests the voting public has no love for the status quo and are ready for truly progressive policies.

All that a new centre-left party would likely achieve is a further split of the progressive vote. Any aspiring centrist groups disregard these truths at their peril, and risk handing the next election to the Conservative Party.

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Feature image via Garry Knight – Flickr

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