At a time when 41 per cent of the UK feel “politically homeless,” with 43 per cent of people saying that they would “definitely” or “potentially” vote for a centrist party, why haven’t the Liberal Democrats gained support?
Over the last few years, we have witnessed political polarisation across the world. The steadying growth of a hard-left Labour and a hard-Brexit Conservative Party in the UK has left a vacuum in our political spectrum.
Those who hold centrist positions are, as Tony Blair phrased it, “politically homeless.” The divide has become so vast, that even those who are committed Labour-supporters or Conservatives no longer feel that they can support their own parties; an attitude that has taken the shape of a new, independent, group. We only have to look across the pond to see what happens when we allow such division to grow: we breed parties whose only goals are to dismantle the work of the other, caught in a vicious circle that denies real progress to either side.
The formation of the Independent Group is a telling sign. Rather than disenchanted Tory and Labour MPs joining forces with the Lib Dems to form a more significant majority, they have formed their own group. So, what exactly is wrong with Vince Cable and his party?
They simply are not present. There is very little reporting on them; I couldn’t tell you their policies, aims, or even a slogan. I know that May is ‘strong and stable’ and that Corbyn is ‘for the many, not the few’, but what is Cable? The political void between the left and the right is exactly that: a void.
More than ever before, we need a moderate voice, but unlike ever before, there is very little space for it. There is a horrible irony in there being a Liberal Democrat-shaped hole that the Liberal Democrats cannot fill.
We have made the error of equating ‘being moderate’ with ‘having no convictions.’ We have equated the moderate to the spineless, and collaboration to collusion. Notice the name of the ‘Independent Party’ – created around the rejection of ideas, rather than the formation of new ones.
There seems to be a total lack of mutual respect between those that hold differing beliefs. The traditional liberal values of giving everyone a voice, and opening discussion between those who disagree have been swept away, and there is no strong alternative left.
Rather than the strength of conviction coming from a sincerity of belief in an idea or policy, it is coming from the loudness and extremity of claims. We need the radical moderate. And the Lib Dems simply aren’t stepping up.
Image: Eric the Fish via Flickr