Occupy the centre, comrades

by / Filed under Politics

British elections are won from the centre.

But where is the centre? As in all things philosophical, the centre is a relative concept. It needs two poles to place itself between, namely the left and the right.

Of course, elections aren’t only won from the centre. What Blair meant was: elections are won by pragmatists who understand credibility.

He’s right, of course, but Blairite and Cleggian pragmatism also helped shift the centre towards the right. Not everyone likes that. It puts things out of kilter. You don’t have to be a Trot to think it leads to some downright unpleasant consequences.

The movement you represent can only take so much of it. Hence the Jeremy Corbyn phenomenon.

Zizek notes this is an opportunity for what’s nostalgically termed the hard left to occupy the old centre ground. And Corbyn is leading a merry dance into this deserted liberal democrat land. See how happy this makes the troops.

But beware: credibility and authenticity are not the same thing.

His opponents are panicking because they have absolutely no idea of how to respond – apart from moving deeper into the pragmatic right while mumbling a few compassionate words.

By definition mass electorates like things that come from the centre. Even the social democratic left, having shifted to the old centre right, could relearn this lesson.

The question is: can the centre be redefined? Or has it been destroyed? Is it merely rhetorical? That’s what a new Labour leader should explore.