James Moore, The Independent
Moderates. They’re toast. History. Britain’s done with them. It’s had enough of pragmatism. It wants what it’s got: a choice between becoming an economically backward satellite of Trump’s America with long queues for limited supplies of fresh food at Tesco after a no-deal Brexit, or a foggy Venezuela, probably with much the same result.
Anyone who thinks otherwise is obviously a member of the out-of-touch north London liberal elite who’s spent too much time snorting recycled paper wraps of cocaine while drinking organic kumquat juice.
This is a narrative doing the rounds at the moment, partly motivated by the relative success of the Brexit Party in the European elections, despite the fact that it was out-polled by Remainers, partly because Labour has Jeremy Corbyn as its leader and the fruit loop Tory membership appears about to prove that it’s possible to find a worse PM than Theresa May by putting Boris Johnson up against him.
The activists that vote for party leaders these days are going for red meat and ideological purity, so obviously that must mean the rules of the game have changed, because the sort of people who join political parties have their fingers bang on the pulse of Britain.
The polls showing people think the big two political parties are completely out of touch and that their respective leaderships are about as useful as a chocolate clothes press? They’re just polls bro! You can’t rely on them, even when they’ve consistently been saying the same thing for a long time, and aren’t the ones commissioned to get the answer that certain media outlets want.
Maybe, just maybe, there’s something in them. And maybe this pragmatism lark has something going for it. People in Britain might quite like a bit of it. It’s worth noting that the Liberal Democrats, currently led by nice, moderate and basically decent Vince Cable, have been doing quite well of late. What’s that you say? They’re only on 20 per cent? That’s double where they were a few months ago.
But the reality of the Liberal Democrat surge, which has been borne out by actual election results, rarely gets much attention. Perhaps it’s because Cable isn’t terribly shouty and takes insults from comedians in his stride rather than going on LBC to cry about it (I see you Nigel Farage).
If you talk to most Britons you’ll probably find their real concerns revolve around paying the mortgage, and the bills, putting food on the table for their kids, hoping that their mum’s hip replacement doesn’t get cancelled for the third time, and so on.
They turned out in relatively large numbers at the last general election because they looked at the two alternatives and decided they were both scary and awful, so they went for the one that was, in their view, slight less scary and awful than the other. Hence the hung parliament.
We’ll probably get another one next time around, despite what The Daily Telegraph would have you believe about Boris Johnson’s chances.
Boris Johnson is probably going to be given first dibs at putting a variant of Thatcherism into action, and he’s going bollocks it up royally because that’s what Johnson has done every time he’s been in office.
Jeremy Corbyn and his circle fondly imagine that the people will run to him after it happens. I wonder. Are voters really going to decide that the right person to sort out a godawful mess is someone who’s probably going to create another one?
They might just decide that the time has come for someone moderate and, crucially, competent even if they’re ultimately a bit boring. But then, if you listen to a charlatan like Jacob Rees-Mogg banging on about how it’s important for politicians to say what they think and get people revved up in support of Johnson, boring suddenly starts to look really, really good.
British politics is being reconfigured – if there were any doubt about this, just look at what has happened in the Conservative Party this last week. It is a party that is unrecognisable
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