Nothing very “centrist” about that. I remember when the common complaint of the Left was that Labour had moved to the right; that it was ‘Blue Labour’ and I remember how the Conservatives had the nerve to claim that they held the Centre when it had clearly shifted the country to the Right. Those were the days when the idea of a middle/the centre, though politically subjective, was understood to be relative; a moveable feast, eagerly sought and fought for – when to be moderate was not condemned as wishy-washy and most certainly was not used as a euphemism for ‘neoliberal’.
I wrote loads, here and on twitter, about the centre and the middle. Some of it was creative mischief or naive reactionary hyperbole, of course (just scroll up and type “middle” or “centre” into the search box) but the connective thread through my arguments was not and the topic was ripe in the Press and on social media. Back then, I was tweeting such sentiments as: “Labour stop fuss-assing with this insipid centre ground tosh. Take us Left & call it “The Centre” like Thatcher & Blair taught us 😉 #bbcsp” [April, 2013]
Those were the days when the middle/the centre was a desirable direction for those who are now calling anti-Brexit and not-keen-on-Corbyn people “centrists”, as though to hold such a position were right-wing and, therefore, anathema to Reason and decency. They forget that, like austerity, moderation is more than just a socio-economic philosophy. It is also an attitude; a reflection of an inner worldview response, mindful of extremism and hysteria, constantly taking responsibility for checking itself. There is nothing Thatcherite, neoliberal, Blairite or any other lazy labelling about that. There is little about our current political climate that is.
How easily the classification slips
Through mind to lips, definitive,
Beyond regret and sorrow
Resignation For ye have the poor with you always
Here endeth the lesson:
Today’s fact of life; tomorrow’s imperative
Yesterday was inevitable
And needs must when
Whole industries have been created to sustain
A spectator sport. Entry fee: hand-wringing
As the meek shall inherit
It was written