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Centrism always fails Radical Britain has no time for the likes of Gina Miller

Joan of Arc or Terminator? (Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


October 1, 2021   5 mins

Keir Starmer declared a few months ago that Labour was “coming home”.

Where exactly is home for Labour? The answer was decisively revealed this week by the leader’s conference speech: home is an Islington townhouse in the year 1996. What a time to be British! Hugh Grant is shagging Liz Hurley. Princess Diana is sparklingly alive. Football means Skinner and Baddiel, not Heysel and Hillsborough. Damon and Noel are the new Mick and John. Somehow, Ian Hislop is actually quite funny.

Bonkers, barmy, grotesque Tories in pin-stripe suits dusted with dandruff are going mental over Europe. But on the telly, inspiring Tony and pragmatic Gordon are preparing, as smoothly professional as stockbrokers, for power. Things can only get
 better.

Starmer did not have to mention Blair on Wednesday. The spirit of Tone was lurking underneath every word, dressed in greasy overalls, wrenching every rhetorical bolt into place. Tough on crime? Absolutely. Education? Say it three times baby.

More important than anything Starmer said was Peter Mandelson’s remark to Seumas Milne: “We’re back in control.”

Speaking of figures from the past who consistently ruin the breakfasts of Daily Mail readers, Gina Miller is back too. New New Labour was not the only centre party to stagger on to the scene in the last few days.

“The True & Fair Party” is her new political vehicle. Miller said: “This government needs to be held to account. Voters deserve better than the current politics of incompetence and self-interest.”

The party’s policies are yet to be announced, but they will be a homecoming for Miller as well. You have to imagine that they will be Rejoin-ishly pro-EU and described everywhere as “centrist”. Like every middle-aged product of British centrism, whether it is a political party, or a newspaper columnist, True & Fair would be better named: Let Down & Fed Up & Really Quite Tired.

Miller is, at least, about a thousand times more interesting than Sir Keir. In the long 2016 era, when the British middle-class were lost in a prolonged and anxious freak out, she was easily the most charismatic and exciting Remainer personality.

The others were lame. Elsewhere there was only terrible hair (A.C. Grayling), or needling over-familiarity (Alastair Campbell, Andrew Adonis), or sad, sullen machismo (Bob Geldof, James O’Brien, David Aaronovitch), or… Femi.

Miller was their antidote and foil. She intrigued in all senses. She was a cigar-smoking sports racer, and a parachutist. Her background was pure 1980s, pure Thatcherite graft. After her family lost its fortune, she chewed her way back through the class system, from hard-luck indigence to a ÂŁ7 million Chelsea villa, by way of the City. She was serious and respected. A lawyerly battle axe. Joan of Arc to Remainers; the Terminator to Brexiteers.

She took flak, both of the legitimate and grimly racist sort. Her most intelligent profilers wondered whether her high-wire legal challenges to Brexit were motivated by “an extreme sense of civic duty” or the chance of another adrenaline rush.

The same question hovers over her new party. In a sense though the answer doesn’t matter. Like Starmer’s zombie centrism, True & Fair will fail, because there is no market for this politics anymore. Barely months have passed since the last attempts to rebuild the centre.

During the Brexit years, centrist fever dreams rolled above the land like rain clouds. In 2017, a Twitter-famous tax lawyer called Jolyon Maugham wanted to launch a new party called “Spring”. His plans were big, massively big. According to the Guardian: “He would hold a 28-day festival at the football stadium in Maidenhead, [Theresa] May’s constituency. Each day would be dedicated to the national dress and cuisine of a different EU member state. For the finale, Maugham planned to announce that he was standing in Maidenhead as a Spring candidate.” That sounds like satire written after a long, drunken seance with the hooting spirit of Auberon Waugh, but apparently it’s true. In the end Maugham “decided he didn’t have enough time to go ahead with it”. A wise choice!

There were smaller, but no less Partridge-into-a-dictaphone visions that year. Former George Osborne aide James Chapman called for an anti-Brexit party called ‘The Democrats’ in a Twitter meltdown, which only ended after he’d demanded — sad machismo again — that Theresa May personally debate him outside parliament. Even PR Week (not exactly Guido Fawkes) was moved to call this “an extraordinary rant”. A few months later, the then Economist writer Jeremy Cliffe proposed setting up a party called “The Radicals” — pro-tech, pro-Europe, social-liberal — and ultimately, anti-ever amounting to anything.

The biggest centrist bubble blown and pricked was Change UK. Or was it The Independent Group for Change? Or the UK’s Independently Grouped Change? Or the UK Group’s Independent Change? Nobody — not even lead member Anna Soubry, who called the party “Change.org” in the Commons — was very sure. (The only Change UK question anybody really wanted to know the answer to was what moisturiser Chuka Umunna used. Sadly, he never told us.)

Formed by 11 MPs fleeing Labour and the Tories, and born in Nando’s, Change UK died in bathos when every single member lost their seat at the last general election. But for me, Change.Independence.UK only really expired for good when its former MEP candidate Gavin Esler was booted off Celebrity Masterchef this summer after serving a dessert condemned as “incomplete” by John Torrode. The judge’s cruel reception of this pudding, which was also compared to “soup”, exactly mirrored the British public’s reaction to Change UK, namely: “WTF is this supposed to be lads.”

Anyway, by 2019 the public was done with soup. They wanted cake. At least Esler reached the Masterchef quarter finals — Change UK didn’t make it past two elections.

How many centrist parties have to get Hindenburged before this all stops? The strangest thing about Miller, and Starmer-Mandelson is that they can’t locate the centre ground at all. If there is a centre ground today in England, it is enormously unpalatable to those who self-identify as centrists. They would not vote for the “Hang the nonces, fund the NHS party”, but that’s where the centre is now.

The centre wants nationalised railways and birched criminals. It wants its borders closed and its healthcare free at the point of access. It is fear and loathing, and charity and kindliness; a truly mutant hybrid of Paul Dacre and Jeremy Corbyn. Pundits would love the English to be the stout and sensible strivers described in Orwell’s The Lion and The Unicorn; sadly, I fear the reality is that they are more like the suspicious and cruel folk described in Chesterton’s The Secret People.

And they’re getting stranger all the time. England is weirding. David Icke has never been so adored. Football fans descended on Nuneaton to defend a half-forgotten statue of George Eliot from BLM; no, they had not read Middlemarch. Parents style their children as Captain Tom. Sports mascots become ultra-large poppies every November. Jackie Weaver publishes books. There are candlelit vigils or protests on a seemingly daily basis.

The mood is jittery, not only in the petrol queues. The writer Clive Martin calls it “Radical Normal”. Gina Miller and Keir Starmer probably don’t know much about Radical Normal, but it has more to do with the future of British politics than they do.


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AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago

I propose ‘the Overton Camber’.
At one time middle of the road policies ran down the middle of the road(!) and the inverse camber meant that the gutters were above the centre. Extremists occupying their Left and Right gutters had to work hard to avoid rolling back down towards the centre.
Nowadays the camber has inverted. The extremists still occupy the Left and Right gutters but Centrist politicians have to work hard to avoid rolling down into the gutter.
It doesn’t help that it is unclear if someone in the middle of the road is coming or going.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Very good. Deserves a lot of upvotes.

Steven Farrall
Steven Farrall
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Sort of, but see ‘the nolan chart’.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nolan_Chart

Peter Dawson
Peter Dawson
2 years ago
Reply to  Steven Farrall

Very interesting – thank you.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Good analogy, but begs the question why the camber has inverted? I suspect the answer is not one that is sympathetic to the idea that the problem can be fixed through top-down policy efforts.

There is one other possibility though, and it’s this: what if an inverted camber is actually a good thing? I mean in the sense that only very competent governments possess the ability to remain balanced?

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

That’s a good question. Perhaps way back the real nut jobs (Left or Right) met in small dark rooms and had no access to widespread dissemination of their views? Nowadays they can meet virtually in large numbers and spread their ideas through many many media channels – most of which are desperate for column-inches or pixel-inches. Plus the ideas (and fake news) spread in hours rather than days or weeks and generate a lot of counter opinions. Perhaps immediacy is the crack cocaine of this Millennium?

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I like the theory that if you stand in the middle of the road you get hit by traffic from both directions (not an original thought on my part)

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

A very good try, and a fun image, but the cambered Highway-cum-Overton window has one problem: it is unidimensional.
In the human being, the spine represents the central line of balance. On each side of the spine, two polarised force lines intertwine back and forth. This can be seen depicted graphically in the Caduceus of Mercury, which has been adopted by the medical profession as its symbol of human healing.
The key feature of the caduceus, and the human spine, is that the central axis is not moveable. It remains firmly fixed in the ascending/descending lines of human activity and development. The two polarised forces are thereby also kept in relation to what is centrally human in the human being, even though they cross over the centre and find themselves on the other side periodically.
Without a vertical axis, analysis can never get anywhere in the provision of human solutions to human problems.
A horizontal line alone represents the animal spine in relation to the earth’s surface: Darwinian, not yet human because it hasn’t yet stood upright and thereby fundamentally changed its position in relation to the cosmos.
All key symbols around the world represent this distinguishing feature of the human being in one form or another: whether the Roman cross depicting a vertical with one horizontal bar, the Russian cross showing three horizontal bars, or other similar symbols, all show a number of different worlds represented by the horizontal bars, this physical world being just one of a number of possibilities.
More than half a century ago now, Herbert Marcuse wrote about the dangers of one-dimensional man. One despairs, because now we seem to have descended even further to an IKEA-style flat-pack man, where people no longer know even how to assemble the constituent parts.
Human development is about more than just eternal skateboarding from one extreme to another, the centre moving according to where the road’s designers choose to fix the extremes.

Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

Intriguing philosophical picture, but the left and right of the human – or any non-political – body are not in opposition. The head and the feet are in opposition, but only because they share the influence of gravity that acts in one direction. Maybe the problem with our politics is the lack of a common gravity field.

Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

First-past-the-post does not help by rewarding polarisation.

Dan Gleeballs
Dan Gleeballs
2 years ago

Covid was a very tense and difficult time, with real fear abroad (and haha, at home). After a difficult tour, soldier friends of mine were told to watch out for crises – urges to divorce, or to go and live in a cave. It’s all a natural result of too much stress for too long. The roaring twenties after WW1 is a good example, with many lives ruined. We should try to avoid major life decisions until spring, at least.

Fuel panics are exactly the sort of thing we have to endure in these feverish times. We used to pride ourselves on never panicking. Let the other guy panic! For us, Hold Fast. This too will pass.

As for Gina Miller, she was just one of the unimaginative risk-averse sorts who never understood the desire to be free to control our own destiny. Free to succeed or fail, sure, but free.

Last edited 2 years ago by Dan Gleeballs
Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

Excellent comment! Couldn’t agree more.

Hold fast! And let things re-adjust.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

I would just comment that when I visited a fuel station, there was no panic, or chaos. There was an unusually long queue, which took us 15 minutes, but everybody was calm, waiting silently and patiently.
A woman near me did express her relief at filling, because she needed it for her business and was too close to empty for comfort.

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Ah. Life in the shires. We’ll miss it when it’s gone.

Carol Moore
Carol Moore
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

I agree. Colleagues of mine describe the National mood as the result of chronic trauma. In some respects it’s like what is sometimes termed the ‘weekend migraine’ ie people will push through difficulties and when the pressure is eased a little, allow themselves to experience the anxiety they were keeping under.

Dean Barwell
Dean Barwell
2 years ago
Reply to  Carol Moore

I’m not seeing it as a National mood from where I stand. I’m an average working guy (manufacturing) and no one I know is or has been traumatised or even anxious, or is describing themselves as such. My mates are pretty diverse work wise, part timers, builders, middle earners in offices to director level managers, and we’re back to work and in the pubs, gigs, theatres, cinemas, shops and sports terraces. The narrative as far a I can see, is from those that spout this sort of twaddle no matter what the situation as its self serving. Actors, musicians Harry and Megs. Even now, BBC6 interviews have people who made albums on their Apple laptop at home, rather than on their Apple laptop in the studio, and then did a virtual gig from their kitchen selling tickets at actual gig prices banging on about the awfulness of it all.
Meanwhile in the real world!

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
2 years ago
Reply to  Dean Barwell

I very much agree. People I see in my real life never seem at all like people I am told are panicking by the media. Things are on up in coastal towns for instance, but this is never reported.
For an organisation that has banged on about diversity for years the BBC is one of the least intellectually diverese organisations in the country, it’s why everything that happens seems to be a total shock to them.
They are dimply aware that to be drifting ever further from the country that actually pays for their existence isn’t an optimal corporate outcome but seem completely incapable of doing anything about it.

I say BBC but you could add other TV companies who are as a bad. There’s *their* world and the real world, and the real world remains (somehow) a far more coherent collection of robust communities than their own, and far different in the main from their own.

Hugh Marcus
Hugh Marcus
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

Love or loathe Gina Miller, she is anything but risk averse. Anyone who takes the government of the day to the high court with their own money has guts. Personally I think she had important things to say about the abuse of power by government (& governments of all shades will try that, if not held to account). I might not agree with a lot of what Gina says, but I admire her stand. Few would have attempted that.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Hugh Marcus

Don’t forget that the law she passed, meaning that the MPs had to vote to enact Article 50, had the side benefit of preventing the Remainer side getting us back in without another vote. So we owe Brexit to her!

Lesley Keay
Lesley Keay
2 years ago
Reply to  Hugh Marcus

I’m not sure it was done with her own money. I seem to recall that she received funding from a number of organisations, including the Soros Foundation.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

“The True & Fair Party” is her new political vehicle. Miller said: â€œThis government needs to be held to account. Voters deserve better than the current politics of incompetence and self-interest.” ”

A brief period of guffawing and snorting with derision, but I’ve calmed down now.

What, exactly, does Gina Miller think characterises the EU itself, but “incompetence and self-interest”?

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

And as she’s so convinced that the current government, voted in with a healthy majority, is not the one the voters deserve, why does she think that they’ll not vote similarly next time, and why does she believe that they’ll think she’s what we deserve? I don’t.
Actually I’ve come to the conclusion that much of the skills of government or lack of them is derived from the civil service. I once thought it a good thing that our political system allowed the civil service to survive changes of government because of the continuity it ensured, but I’m beginning to think it is but the continuity of privilege and mediocrity.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
2 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I yhink she’s probably just got a bit addicted to the interviews and telly lights and wants to have a bit more of it. It IS exciting and people do miss it all when it’s gone.

Nicholas Rynn
Nicholas Rynn
2 years ago

I suspect most of are just getting on with life whilst our political masters exist in the bell chamber of Twitter.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

The middle isn’t anything of itself – it’s defined by the extremes.
If the extreme moves left, then the middle moves left and so on.

Adam Bartlett
Adam Bartlett
2 years ago

Overton window theory.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago

The centre is usually defined as the beliefs of the speaker.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago

And therein lies the great problem of the Overton window: extremism is allowed to define the “respectable” Centre which “normal” moderate citizens supposedly should aim for.
Objective ethics are thereby excluded from consideration in determining where the political spectrum should lie. And in excluding ethics, politics is rendered once more subservient to subhuman forces embedded in statistics and computer algorithms. We arrive at yet another version of the famous “Computer says no!” of the British sitcom.
What is needed is for citizens to take human responsibility for the consequences of their actions, not hand over their duties to impersonal forces run mostly by Satan.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
2 years ago

She’s not the Messiah, Will, she’s just a very wealthy and well-connected lady.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
2 years ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

She’s not the Messiah; she’s a very naughty girl.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
2 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

When I woke up this morning, what WASN’T on my mind was “let’s have more wealthy lawyers in power”.
However I was wondering how we’ve ended up with more job vacancies for the working class since Thatcher with a Labour opposition more interested in my cervix than pay, conditions, training and staff retention in the key industries affected.
It’s been quite a journey for Labour from Attlee and Bevan.

Last edited 2 years ago by Dustin Needle
Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

That is a very sick comment.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

Sadly, you appear to have missed the cultural reference. It’s from Monty Python – you have heard of them? Now, in 1979 they released a comedy film called The Life of Brian, set in first-century Galilee and Judea. The principal character (Brian, played by Graham Chapman) is believed – mistakenly, as I’m sure you will appreciate – to be the Messiah. An enthusiastic crowd mobbing his house is reproved by his shrewish mother (Mandy Cohen, played by Terry Jones) with the words ‘He’s not the Messiah; he’s a very naughty boy!’

Dustin Needle wrote: ‘She’s not the Messiah, Will, she’s just a very wealthy and well-connected lady.’

And so … well, I’m confident that you can piece things together now.

Katy Hibbert
Katy Hibbert
2 years ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

And an enemy of democracy.

alan Osband
alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

Will knows that . Hence the nauseating flattery

Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago

Very funny!

Personally I don’t think the centre ever shifts “Fund the NHS, hang the nonces” would have been wildly popular in 1821 (once you had explained what the NHS is and that at some point we wouldn’t hang criminals). People can only vote for the politicians put in front of them but their beliefs are pretty static.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt M
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

The centrist position in 1948 was sceptical of the NHS.

Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago

I think the proposition: let the wealthy* pay for our services and hang the nonces – is closer to a statement of the permanent centre ground. If not so snappy.

*wealthier than me!

Popular in 1948 and 2048

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt M
Katy Hibbert
Katy Hibbert
2 years ago

After her family lost its fortune, she chewed her way back through the class system, from hard-luck indigence to a ÂŁ7 million Chelsea villa, by way of the City. 

Nonsense. The ghoulishly ghastly Gina Miller has never earned her own money. Her only “achievement” was to marry a rich hedge fund manager. She has used his money and that of her Remoaner cronies to attempt to overturn the greatest democratic vote in UK history. She is an enemy of democracy and a worthless apology for a human being.

Niobe Hunter
Niobe Hunter
2 years ago
Reply to  Katy Hibbert

I tried to reply to you with some more examples of Ms Millers revisionist antics, but I seem to have been censored . un herd/ heard eh.

D Ward
D Ward
2 years ago
Reply to  Katy Hibbert

I tried to upvote you but cannot.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

Your link on George Eliot shows the writer mocking the presumption of the (nowhere does it say they were football fans) “defenders” of the George Eliot statue.
He writes, smarmily, “Protestors, of course, had no interest in toppling a statue of a Brit who may very well have been down for the cause today.” as if we can assume such sophisticated reasoning from the BLM mob.

Jake Prior
Jake Prior
2 years ago

I’m not sure the article actually says anything, but when so much in the media seems designed principally to enrage or terrify, something that gives a good chuckle, with humour that felt to me generous to all butts, is I think just what the world needs. Great writing.

John Stephenson
John Stephenson
2 years ago

Why change the quote about hanging and NHS I wonder? The actual wording from the twitter thread (where the original writer is talking about the “mixed” left-right views of a majority of voters), was “Fund the NHS, Hang the paedos”.
Is it because Will Lloyd thinks too many of his readers will agree with that? Did he change it to “nonces” because he thought more of us would disagree since we don’t, as a nation, have much against gay people (presuming he’s using nonces as the old slur/insult against homosexuals)? Seems a weird little edit otherwise.
Then the very next paragraph, having admitted the results of the linked survey give a mixed picture (“fear and loathing, and charity and kindliness”) he describes the English as cruel and suspicious. Oh, and getting worse.
This all reads like Will would like a return to the “centre” as was, ie Tony and Gordon, as he really doesn’t like the fact that’s not where the country is, especially having now experienced Tony, Gordon, Peter, etc.
(Edited for a typo – probably not all of them…)

Last edited 2 years ago by John Stephenson
Adam Bartlett
Adam Bartlett
2 years ago

I’d suspect no shift in meaning was intended with the ‘nonce’ edit. The slang meaning of the word has always been synonymous with paedophile. One used to hear it more often back in the 20th century. Admittedly, back then a small minority might use it with the meaning you suggest, as there was a (now thankfully dated) minority view that homosexuals were more likely to be paedophiles. It doesn’t read to me as if Will is looking back wistfully at the Tony & Gordon years. Though I’d agree that would be a reasonable take. “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!” ( With Blair taking care of business so well, a moderately socialist boy like myself felt no compulsion to be involved in annoying politics. At least for a bright youth in London, well paying jobs were trivial to land even for the unconnected & not especially well educated. We had Lad culture, so much more fun & gentle than what young people have today.)

Niobe Hunter
Niobe Hunter
2 years ago

Nonce is prison slang for any prisoner whose crimes would put them at risk from other inmates: it means not on communal exercise. So certainly paedophiles, but also child killers, rapists, – oh and of course, ex-policemen.

William Murphy
William Murphy
2 years ago
Reply to  Niobe Hunter

I understood “nonce” to be an abbreviation for nonsense prisoners, in contrast to decent car thieves, bank robbers, etc. There may well be multiple origins. Whatever the linguistic debate, Wayne Couzens is not going to enjoy the next 30 years in such company.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  William Murphy

It is allegedly an acronym for “not on normal courtyard exercise”.

Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
2 years ago

You’re confusing ‘nonce’ with ‘ponce’. Easy mistake.

Niobe Hunter
Niobe Hunter
2 years ago

Yes, she is the Megan Markle of the political classes. Her biography is interesting, it changes regularly. At one stage she claimed to have attended Beneden, then she admitted that this was not actually true, but that she ‘ wanted to ‘! She also claimed to have a law degree until it emerged that she actually abandoned her degree course at the University of Westminster without taking any qualifications. Now she has acquired an honorary degree.
She and her husband attempted to renegotiate his divorce settlement with the wife she replaced, which would have left him free of obligations to his perfectly legitimate children; the courts were not supportive. I’m just hoping her replacement is in the wings.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
2 years ago

Yes I find Will’s style jarring and tiring. There’s some good references in the article but it’s painfully staccato in delivery.
Indeed; where is DM?
Edit: In hindsight I was probably a bit rude to Will – apologies. Not his fault that I prefer Douglas. I just find Will’s writing less enjoyable to read and doesn’t flow as well. Each to their own.

Last edited 2 years ago by A Spetzari
John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

“The centre wants nationalised railways and birched criminals. It wants its borders closed and its healthcare free at the point of access. It is fear and loathing, and charity and kindliness; a truly mutant hybrid of Paul Dacre and Jeremy Corbyn. Pundits would love the English to be the stout and sensible strivers described in Orwell’s The Lion and The Unicorn; sadly, I fear the reality is that they are more like the suspicious and cruel folk described in Chesterton’s The Secret People.

This is a good point, sort of, but need expanding: Centrism is the political creed that suffers more than most from the inaccuracies generated by polling. The best way to describe it is that while the polls will tell you that people want a large welfare State and a fully funded NHS but also low taxes, voters never say that. The reason is simply that pollsters are good at getting people’s wishlists, while the voting booth actually gets their balanced decisions.

The other fault with centrism is this: it’s supposed to be all about the politics of compromise, but the fact is that all successful governments do that anyway. What centrism does is to effect compromise in an atmosphere devoid of conviction or belief, which means, counter-intuitively, that extremists get a louder voice at the expense of genuine moderates, because the centrist power broker only cares about working the room and getting a consensus: he doesn’t care where the consensus actually ends up. The conviction politician achieves compromise, but not at any cost.

On this last point, see Nick Tyrone’s excellent article on the tangentially related subject of proportional representation. It doesn’t exactly prove the point I’m making, but does show very well how counter-intuitive some of the forces are when considering how to make this stuff work: https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/momentum-s-cunning-plan-would-keep-the-tories-in-power-forever

Last edited 2 years ago by John Riordan
jamescartmell
jamescartmell
2 years ago

Funny how “centrist” parties tend to be so peripheral.

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
2 years ago

A good read, thanks! I get it that, for ironic effect, you are being wilfully naĂŻve. By “centrism”, the Millers and the Starmers of this world just mean the current cosy consensus opinion among the liberal elite (and 50D everyone else).

Jake Prior
Jake Prior
2 years ago

Go and read a few James Forsythe articles over at the Spectator. Hopefully you’ll appreciate Unherd giving space to a young writer with at least his own style and humor – as opposed to safe but lobotomisingly complete vacuousness in every respect – whether it tickles your particular fancy or not, is a great service to journalism we should be very thankful for.

Jake Prior
Jake Prior
2 years ago
Reply to  Jake Prior

Thanks for the compliment, I’ll take it in the spirit I’ve no doubt it was meant. Have a relaxing Sunday.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

This whole article assumes that it is ‘centrist’ or moderate to attempt every possible method of blocking Brexit, mandated through a referendum that the British public were told would determine this issue. Over 500 of the MPs of the 650 voted for it, including most of the Lib Dems and Caroline Lucas of the Greens.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

Yeats’s poem, the one where the centre cannot hold and things fall apart? What’s it called?

Richard Parker
Richard Parker
2 years ago

“The second coming”. Great poem, good reference.

D Ward
D Ward
2 years ago

Prepositions matter. My prepositions today are: WITH. As in:
“ personally debate WITH him”

Peter Mott
Peter Mott
2 years ago

Maybe – but people wrote of the SDP which seems to have returned from the dead.
Kinnock fought the fight against the Left before Blair took the party to back to power – so Starmer does the purging and someone else will then step in, by which time Boris will have done a bumble too far ….

Kathleen Stern
Kathleen Stern
2 years ago

I enjoyed it! Humorous and interesting about the various people involved in trying to prevent the democratic vote and failing! Some strange and interesting characters
.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Has Douglas left us? Please tell me this is not so.

Carol Moore
Carol Moore
2 years ago

Where is he?

John Hicks
John Hicks
2 years ago

Clever Mr. Lloyd. Thanks for continuing chuckles through every para.

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago

Great writing.

Steven Farrall
Steven Farrall
2 years ago
Ian Moore
Ian Moore
2 years ago

Labour, and many others claiming the title of political party, fail to realise that they need to appeal to a broad church, not just their own echo chambers. The demonising and vilification of many of the electorate will never see them in power. Until they realize this they will continue to believe that the last manifesto was what people actually wanted, or that Starmer and Rayner have a chance of leading the country, which conversely will result in them never leading the country. It’s amazing how much of a complete lack of self awareness they have as a group.

Bob Henson
Bob Henson
2 years ago

Interestingly the term nonce was originally ‘nonse’ written on the paper records of prisoners to indicate that they were ‘not of normal sexual experience’.

Hakan Ensari
Hakan Ensari
2 years ago

Scary stuff

andrew harman
andrew harman
2 years ago

This is one of the most specious articles I have read on Unherd. It seems to assume that a political landscape is frozen in a time of the author’s choosing and there are no winds of change.
And where exactly has polarising populism got us?

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago

This won’t be a popular thing to say, but I never figured out why she is the enemy of democracy. I would be happy to be enlightened.

She was obviously was against Brexit, which was a democrat choice, but the proper working of Parliament and the courts are also important arms of democracy.

I’m not shy about putting cats amongst pigeons

Last edited 2 years ago by rodney foy
Katy Hibbert
Katy Hibbert
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

She didn’t give a monkey’s about the “proper working of Parliament and the courts” – she just wanted to overturn Brexit and used her husband’s and Remoaner cronies’ money to do so. Disgusting apology for a human being.

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Katy Hibbert

She wanted to overturn Brexit for sure, but where’s the evidence for the rest

Richard Kuslan
Richard Kuslan
2 years ago

Is “centrism always fails” a modern restatement of Robert Conquest’s (or at least attributed to him) second law of politics, i.e. “Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.”

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago

Bitchy, superficial, and focussed on the author’s own little in-group, this article wastes serious readers’ time. It exemplifies what is wrong with the English right now.

Diana Durham
Diana Durham
2 years ago

This is crap.