Friday, 23 September 2016

How will the UK's Political Parties Realign?

Friday 23 September 2016 (updated for Corbyn win Saturday 24th)


Let's look at the main parties in simplistic but nonetheless representative terms from left to right in political views:
Let's then look at how voters rate themselves on the left-right spectrum. This is based on data collected by ComRes in late 2014, consistent with many other surveys:

What do we notice?
  1. There is no specialist party serving the centre right of the true centre
  2. Most voters regard themselves as centrist, with a slight bias to the right. 
  3. So there is no party directly and solely represents the vast majority of voters

As a result the last few general elections have been a battle between Labour and Conservatives to capture that centre ground. 


For Labour, Jeremy Corbyn has been confirmed as leader.  Various of Labour's centrist MPs have said they will not serve in his Shadow Cabinet.

The pressure for Labour to split between two groups who do not share the same political philosophy is immense  The left "Momentum" group, broadly supporting Corbyn, and the centrist "Progress" group, who typically support Tony Blair's former policies, are not compatible.  This coalition has to end. Labour must split.

For the Conservatives, they are still divided over Europe.  Theresa May on becoming Prime Minister did not re-appoint various centrist MPs onto the Cabinet.  One of these, George Osborne the former Chancellor, has just made a speech in Chicago to say that “Brexit won a majority. Hard Brexit did not."  This is in response to ideas gaining ground that the UK should not only leave the European Union, but also the single market and customs union, which are broader by including non-EU members.

The form of Brexit the Mrs May's government will attempt to negotiate is still totally unclear. Support for each type of Brexit, and indeed staying in the European Union, is also putting immense strain on the Conservative party.  Before the June Brexit vote, there were more Conservative MPs campaigning to remain in the EU than to leave. Whilst some now back Brexit, there are still many who believe that the UK should remain in the EU. 

The pro-EU and generally centrist MPs and members could split from the anti-EU and generally right-wing people.  It's then a possibility that the right wingers merge with UKIP.



If the Labour or Conservative parties each split in two, the resulting parts would not be big enough to win enough Westminster seats to form a government.  Some form of alternative coalition is necessary.

It's a logical option for centre-left Labour MPs and members to join the LibDems.  But there are a number of reasons why this would be attractive to some, but unattractive to others.  And certainly few would be prepared to join a party called the Conservatives.

Then what should the Conservative centre-right do? To form a government there needs to be a critical mass of MPs and members. It would make sense to align with the centre-left, to form a new centrist coalition party with perhaps a slight centre-right bias.

Centrist Labour MPs and members have two choices if they cannot tolerate Momentum Labour:
  1. Join the LibDems
  2. Join the new Centrist party

Indeed this sort of idea was apparently being floated in the tearooms of Westminster in July when this article was published in the Observer:  Now centrist Labour and Conservative MPs need to be talking urgently about forming a new party that better represents their views, and those of most voters.

The Labour and Conservative conferences are about to take place,  The divisions in both parties are expected to dominate proceedings.

So the question is how is this new centrist party going to be formed?  Which MPs will take the initiative?

The Just Political Party has been formed to fill this role, but there could be other options. Let's see!

1 comment:

  1. I covered what, why, how and when in the article, but not "where?"
    I suggested Westminster. But the starting gun has been fired this morning in Portsmouth by the leader of the Labour party there: