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March 07, 2020



Radix's latest publication from Sir Norman Lamb would suggest that reports of the death of the centre are premature:


They are also holding an event in London later this month to discuss it:



To my mind "The Mussolini Playbook" on Chris's blogroll sums up our situation.

There seems a visceral dislike of Blairism, sure he turned out an awful liar but his policies worked for a while. Think baby/bathwater.

To my mind the Bennett link illustrates the uselessness of academic think tanks, the Radix link looks good but very very unlikely. The Bowman/Westlake link followed the same pattern, my eyes glazed over at 'non-partisan think tank' and 'practical economic activism', oxymorons both.

The link to 'The Third Way after Corbynism' does not bring any hope either. The very word Corbyn is a 100% turnoff, he and all his writings should be buried very very deeply, but mark the spot.

Perhaps when 'The Mussolini Playbook' along with Brexit has reached 'the end' in about 20 years some political archaeologist can dig up the remains of Corbyn's ideas and as with Britain in 1945 find a new socialist beginning. But an awful lot of wrecking has to occur before then.


Our blogger is a technocrat, hence his inability to see beyond the limits of his technocratic outlook and a consequent inability's to understand what has happened, particularly Brexit.

The issue is power. I like being able to vote in the people who govern me, and being able to vote them out.

Take immigration. Lots of noise recently about the limitations of a points based system. This misses the point. Immigration policy is now in the hands of the government. If the points-based system doesn't work, then it can be changed. Freedom of Movement was not a policy the UK government could do anything about. When problems arose, we were told there was nothing we could do. One referendum and two elections later, that has been shown to be wrong.

Take Rachel Reeves. A fine politcianl, and one I'd thought could be a decent Labour Leader. Until Brexit. She joined in with all the other Remainers to say that only direct rule from Brussels could save us from disaster. How can a politician do that to their voters? How can they sign the death warrant of government by elected politicans and replace it with government by foreign-dominated committee? Could they not see that there would come a point when the tensions in that relationship would be exposed and we would be faced with government by dictat from foreign powers?

Yet, we have a centrist government. Increasing public spending, committed to social reforms, a diverse government from across the communities, an intrusive regional policy. What's not for a leftist to like?

Johnson understood that in the hierarchy of political need, the fundamental level is about voter power, and if that is not properly constructed then nothing else matters. That's why he is in Downing Street. Because he saved democracy from those who thought they knew better.


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Agree with everything you said. I think the problems were well known (especially among historians and economic historians who were strong on the history side) during the Great Moderation and New Labour era before the crash. There were people (eg Rawthorn in Cambridge, Edgerton at Imperial)who warned that deindustrialisation in Britain was a problem and deregulation of trade and capital and labour markets was unlikely to be the answer. The economics profession and group think however was particularly powerful at this time. It confused mathematicisation with advances in knowledge and understanding. A lot of lessons were forgotten and a lot of knowledge ignored. Sadly, I don't think much has changed.

There is no hope for the centre left until they come up with new ideas. Blair was not the problem. Give him the right policy, and he would have got it through. The problem was his advisers and a vacuum of ideas backed by knowledge that was widely and deeply informed.


"the issue is Brexit"
The issue that wasn't an issue. Not until UKIP lit the xenoophobic touchpaper and 'centrist' Tories tried to head them off with a referendum on 'how xenophobic do you feel about others from Europe?'
Concern about migration was a minor issue behind concerns about the economy and health service until that decision to launch a referendum. Subsequently concerns about migration returned to normality well before any final decision on the nature of future relationships with the EU or even if freedom of movement might still be retained.
Ergo your concerns were and are marginal concerns, popular with the ill informed who believe failing health and care systems and poor work outlooks are the fault of too many immigrants rather than too much deference to big business and finance. Which also lies at the core of a real democratic deficit. One that exists in the workplace and between the City and all else. ...and arguably in the minds of those who would proffer the formalism of political hierarchy over real power relations which remain entrenched in London as in Brussels.



*The issue that wasn't an issue ...xenophobic touch paper ... minor issue ... ill informed ... real democratic deficit"

Thank you for your comment. And what a great example of the self-deceiving mindset that has brought the left to its current parlous state. I made it clear that isn my opinion it was the issue of democratic accountability and power that lay at the heart of the massive Johnson majority and the decision to leave the EU. Just about every poll backs that up. But that doesn't fit in with your view of the world so you recalibrate the argument into something that fits into your simplistic good/bad view of the world. A classic of its kind.

Zhou Fang

"Labour have captured workers alienated by high house prices and the neoliberal managerialism which New Labour accelerated."

They have? Could have fooled me.


Ah I see now. It's simplistic to argue that there is no such thing as economic democracy in the UK and that government for business by business might have contributed enormously to the plight of those that feel left behind. ...but not simplistic to offer up casual and oft repeated myths relating to our inability to stem the foreign tide ...due to Brussels?
Never mind Brussels is and was overwhelmingly supported by the very same business community that I spoke of. And whilst I see the result of the Gen Election as an endorsement of The Sun, Mail, and Telegraph views etc, etc that it was Brussel's fault that so many in tbe provinces and coastal towns felt abandoned, I would suggest that its your own views which sound reflexive and somewhat simplistic.


So I maybe remembering it with rose-tinted glasses, but my recollection of Blair being elected the first time was that everyone was sick to the back teeth of the Tories and he seemed like a presentable chap who didn't scare the horses. None of it had much to do with his economic policies, except they weren't obviously mad (unlike the hard left of the 1980s).

You're also mischaracterising what centrists think of the likes of Corbyn. It's not "Hatred of the left". It's despair at their utter incompetence. You can't help the left behind if you are too incompetent to win an easy election like 2017.


...which is why Thatcher said her greatest achievement was Tony Blair. Not 'scaring the horses' (big business) was the Tory imposed straitjacket of the day.
Do we have to keep the straitjacket on for eternity...or can we take it off now, please?


I was thinking more of the older middle classes, you know, the people who vote in vast numbers and are essential for winning an election.


Yeah I know who you mean Rich. The retired and about to retire property owning classes who don't need to worry much about mortgages, insecurity and stuff. Oh well, straightjackets all round then. Not so terrible really. After all serfs were serfs because they were born serfs and that went on for centuries. ...sigh

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