With rumours continuing to circle about Theresa May’s grip on 10 Downing Street – will she walk, or will she be pushed? – it is possible that Brexit will be her last act as the prime minister. Scheduled for March 2019, there could be a battle for the Conservative Party leadership shortly thereafter.
At this point, we would surely be heading for another election. The new Tory leader, whoever that may be, wouldn’t have a mandate from the voting public; the reason for last year’s election and one which nearly blew up rather spectacularly in May’s face when Labour made huge gains on the night.
If there was to be a general election in 2019, where would your vote go? It seems that most of us vote for the same party time after time, regardless of leader or slight changes in policy and outlook.
But is that a form of confirmation bias….are we genuinely voting for our preferred candidate, or are we simply suffering from a lack of viable alternatives?
Let’s face it, there are only two parties that can win a UK election at the moment: the Conservatives and Labour. The Liberal Democrats are something of a laughing stock these days, and have been since Nick Clegg climbed into a metaphorical bed with David Cameron in that ghastly coalition government. The fringe parties, such as the Greens and UKIP, are never likely to achieve mainstream appeal.
Perhaps UK politics is screaming out for a new party then; an organisation that can challenge the establishment with more centrist policy-making. Maybe, they are upon us already….
A Well-Kept Secret
The Guardian this week has reported of a new political party that is heavily funded and backed by a number of experienced politicians from both sides of the divide.
The as-yet-untitled project is helmed multi-millionaire and LoveFilm founder Simon Franks, who is said to be pumping some £50m in getting the party off the ground. The ethos behind the group is to ‘break the Westminster mould’, and it is believed that a number of business people, donors and philanthropists are already on board.
The Guardian writes that the project is being spearheaded by a former Labour benefactor, although Conservative donors are also said to be behind a centrist movement that will borrow policies and ideas from the left and the right.
According to the report, ‘….the movement is understood to have been drawn up by a group frustrated by the tribal nature of politics, the polarisation caused by Brexit and the standard of political leadership on all sides.’
It is possible that the inspiration has come from the recent French general election, where Emmanuel Macron’s centrist En Marche! Party, which utilised economic and social policies from the right and left, swept to power over the resolutely right-wing Marine Le Pen.
There is a clear chasm in British politics. The Tories are seen as the poster boys and girls of Brexit; a movement hardly greeted with open arms by Remain voters or even some Leave voters who simply didn’t know what they were voting for (sounds daft but hey: this is democracy).
Labour, with socialist Jeremy Corbyn in charge, are heading further left than usual and anti-Semitic smears continue to dog the party.
And the Liberals….well, hey aren’t in a position to threaten the status quo any time soon.
Perhaps this new party could be a breath of fresh air in UK politics?
A Slice of History
Factions, breakaways and visionaries….there is, perhaps, a reason why UK politics extends very rarely beyond the three main parties.
Building trust and integrity takes time, of course, and one mis-step at the earliest stage can lead to a new political movement grinding to a halt before it has even got into its stride.
So this new group will do well to learn from the lessons of the Social Democratic Party, which was set-up by four former Labour MPs who believed the party had gone too left wing. This quartet, and others, stood in the general elections of 1974 and 1979, but did not gain any seats.
Most gallingly, the group split shortly after, with some of their politicians joining the Liberal Democrats and others continuing the SDP with little success.