Monday, 17 September 2018

Here's the reason "centrism is really struggling to make headway"


In a speech to the Lib-Dem conference Gina Miller lamented the fact that "centrism is really struggling to make headway" before going on to call people to the left and right "fascists" with "cold hard ideologies".

The obvious problem with centrism is that the term itself is a complete misnomer that implies that hovering aimlessly around near the centre has some special moral virtue no matter how far off into the political extremes the prevailing political orthodoxy might go.

Thus during the post-war decades the political centre was the mixed economy of public ownership of vital infrastructure, services and industries combined with a strong welfare state and regulated capitalism (a position occupied by Labour, the Liberals, and the Tories), and the privatise everything, "greed is good" deregulate the financial sector right-wingers were fringe lunatics.

Fast forward to 1979 and the hard-right fringe were propelled into power and their mass privatisation, welfare-wrecking, deregulation mania has continued unabated for four decades with truly appalling consequences.

Just look at the behaviour of the self-declared centrists between 2010 and 2016 and you can see the disastrous consequences of this morally weak and utterly wrong-headed determination to occupy the centre ground between raving ideological extremism of the Tories and the Blairism that went before it:

  • In 2014 Theresa May introduced her extremist "hostile environment" legislation and bragged about how the Tory government could "deport now, hear appeals later". Dozens of black British citizens were deported under these rules. Several died in exile. Thousands more were denied employment, housing, access to public services, access to banking services, even medical treatment. The majority of 'centrists' either voted in favour of this disgusting legislation, with only a tiny minority of MPs opposing it on principle (or because their "cold hard ideologies" wouldn't allow them to enable it as Gina Miller would no doubt describe it).
  • After their election defeat Labour centrists like Chris Leslie actually tried to argue that losing the election by copying Tory extremism rather than opposing it meant Labour should shift even further to the right! Thankfully the Labour membership strongly disagreed and voted for a candidate who would actually oppose ruinous Tory austerity dogma instead of meekly copying it.
  • During the Labour leadership election the Labour centrists decided to abstain on a massive programme of Tory welfare cuts designed to further impoverish the poor, especially the working poor. Jeremy Corbyn was the only Labour leadership candidate to vote against it.

Centrist collusion with Tory austerity dogma had appalling consequences: The longest period of sustained wage devaluation on record, public services put under massive strain or shut down entirely, in-work benefits slashed, soaring food bank dependency, exploitative employment practices like Zero Hours Contracts and fake self-employment spreading like wildfire ...

Then it came to the Brexit vote and suddenly the complacent centrists were trapped in a pit of their own digging. The far-right Brextremists opportunistically blamed immigrants and the EU for the wage collapse, the failing public services, the in-work poverty, the suffering ... But the centrists couldn't fight back with the truth that these things were the result of austerity, because they were all complicit with austerity.

The only way the centrists have countered the far-right anti-immigrant anti-EU lies would have been to admit that 'centrism' itself was a fraud!


Amazingly centrists still occupy this bubble of delusion that it's somehow morally superior to triangulate with hard-right Tory austerity dogma than to oppose it. That all the 'centrist' MPs abstaining on Theresa May's vile "hostile environment" policy was acceptable and palatable xenophobia, but the xenophobic Brextremist lies were somehow so much worse than a policy they couldn't even be bothered to oppose that eventually led to British citizens dying in exile abroad!

The problem is that centrists promised us that their watered down version of neoliberalism would bring prosperity, but what it's actually delivered is Tory austerity dogma, collapsing wages, failing public services, exploitative employment practices, ridiculous privatisation scams, grotesque "hostile environment" policies, soaring in-work poverty, and eventually the centrist's own worst nightmare; Brexit.

But rather than admit their culpability in creating this dreadful situation, they're intent on moral high-horsing and abusing everyone to the left, and everyone to the right of them as "fascists"!

And it's exactly this kind of self-aggrandising and aloof sneering that's going to keep them in the political wilderness, because like it or not, the idea of aimlessly drifting around in the totally artificial territory of the 'centre ground' is finished.

The choice now is between the hard-right neoliberals who want to keep us on the same course we've been on for four decades (more privatisation, more undermining of workers rights, more public service cutbacks, more under-investment in infrastructure spending and research and development, more welfare cuts for the poor, more tax cuts and lavish handouts for the mega-rich) or those on the left who want to change direction and make Britain more of a high-tech, high-skill society with a decent welfare system like Norway, Finland, Germany, or Denmark.

Of course it's necessary to take an ideological position to step away from the complacency and aimlessness of the political 'centre', but there's nothing "cold" or "hard" about opposing the political orthodoxy of welfare cuts on the most vulnerable people in society (the sick, the disabled, the working poor, the jobless, the children, the elderly and infirm ...) in order to lavish corporations and the mega-rich with ever more tax cuts and handouts.

Quite the contrary, it takes a "cold hard" heart to go along with such barbarity solely because you want to maintain the illusion that by doing so you're somehow a 'moderate' occupying the 'centre ground'!

When centrism actively helps the Tories grind the most vulnerable people in society into absolute destitution for five years in order to feed the greed of the mega-rich, and then centrists accuse others who object to this horrific agenda of "fascism" and having "cold hard ideologies" then you really can't expect anyone other than your ever-diminishing echo chamber of delusional 'centrists' to applaud your unbelievably hypocritical message.


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