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:
That’s a novel idea. A party of the rich, by the rIch, for the rich. A party for the few not the many. https://t.co/nZIvkbkdGj
— John McDonnell MP (@johnmcdonnellMP) April 7, 2018
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:
If you’re talking about how much money you have to spend rather than your values then you’re missing the point of being in politics https://t.co/cgCoQLgur7
— Justin Madders MP (@justinmadders) April 7, 2018
Policies for new party will be chosen by “one million – one vote” system https://t.co/xDUSxjDt2L
— Solomon Hughes (@SolHughesWriter) April 7, 2018
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:
— Nick Srnicek (@n_srnck) April 7, 2018
Scene 4: After year-long negotiations chaired by John Chilcot, a report is published 3 years later codifying a deal with Jeremy Cliffe’s “Renew”. It won’t run against the new centrist party in exchange for a lifetime of free LoveFilm
Scene 5: It’s 2022 and Labour win a majority
— Matt Zarb-Cousin (@mattzarb) April 7, 2018
— heartbeeps (@hrtbps) April 7, 2018
Many politicians and pundits saw the initiative for what it really is, a desperate move by the establishment to retain the status quo:
What you see here is an establishment reboot job. With the Tories on self-destruct mode and Labour at last offering a radical alternative to neoliberalism – this group wants a re boot and rebrand for a failed ideology.RT if you’re done with neoliberal-litehttps://t.co/Haj0M3gqha
— Clive Lewis (@labourlewis) April 7, 2018
New party gets £50m backing to ‘break mould’ of UK politics https://t.co/zQrCS8aNSW
Memo to new party
Macron succeeded because French Socialists moved too far right
People want real change – hey, Corbyn's Labour got 40%
Your "non-politics" sounds like just supporting status quo
— Tom London (@TomLondon6) April 8, 2018
A group of multimillionaires funding politics as their plaything seems to me quite the opposite of 'breaking the mould' of British political life. https://t.co/k8KJJhQaH0
— James B (@piercepenniless) April 7, 2018
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:
I'm stuck between Nomentum or Centrists Unite Now Together, but the latter doesn't abbreviate very well. #NameTheNewPoliticalParty
— Rachael Swindon #GTTO (@Rachael_Swindon) April 8, 2018
Surely the already suggested One-Percenterist Party is a clear winner but I'd like to suggest the following chant,
'What do we want?'
'The status quo!'
'When do we want it?'
'We've already got it but 50m would be nice'#crapchants#NameTheNewPoliticalParty
— Tom McElveen (@tom_mcelveen) April 8, 2018
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.
– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.
Feature image via Garry Knight – Flickr
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?