DEBATE: Is the British political landscape ripe for a new centre party?

Gang Of Four
Remember the SDP? (Source: Getty)

Is the British political landscape ripe for a new centre party?

Alan Lockey, head of modern economy at Demos, says YES.

The idea of a “new centre party” is easy to mock. Haven’t we been here before with the SDP? Didn’t the main parties just increase their vote?

Both are true, but as the Labour party in Scotland showed, unpopular parties can lose mass support almost overnight.

And make no mistake: our two main parties are deeply unpopular. Their leaders continually plum dire approval ratings; their policy offerings are trite and retrograde. Anyone who doubts that a “plague on both houses” message would get a hearing is seriously overestimating the country’s political happiness.

Then there are the moral arguments. One, that Remainers and soft Brexiteers lack formal political representation. Two, that the main parties have lost their constitutionally critical ability to reconcile social divisions to the national interest.

True, these impulses do not sit easily together. But if they were somehow combined, maybe the 45 per cent of people who believe a new centre party is necessary will soon get what they want.

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Alex Deane, a Conservative commentator, says NO.

The Alliance for Green Socialism. The Animal Welfare Party. The British Democrats. The Christian Party. The Christian Democratic Party. The Christian Peoples Alliance. The Common Good. Democrats and Veterans. The English Democrats. For Britain. Left Unity. The Libertarian Party. The National Health Action Party. The National Liberal Party. No Candidate Deserves My Vote. OneNation. The Peace Party. The Populist Party. Something New. Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. The Whig Party. The Women’s Equality Party. Young People’s Party UK.

You may not have heard of them, but they’re all still trading.

On the other hand, we no longer have Britain First, The Democratic Party, Jury Team, The Natural Law Party, The New Party, The Peace and Progress Party, The ProLife Alliance, Respect, The Trust Party, Veritas, and many others.

All of these parties think or thought that they would break the mould. They didn’t. They won’t. Neither will yet another new party. We haven’t even started on the “stop Brexit” movement fantasies yet.

Read more: DEBATE: Have the Liberal Democrats had it?

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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