Letter: A new centre party can succeed despite our electoral system

PUBLISHED: 12:43 16 April 2018 | UPDATED: 12:55 16 April 2018

A Remainer campaigning against Brexit in London. Photograph: Jonathan Brady

A Remainer campaigning against Brexit in London. Photograph: Jonathan Brady

PA Wire/PA Images

The idea of a new centre party is tempting for Remain voters left feeling disenfranchised by the attitudes of the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition. I believe it could succeed despite our electoral system.

I have been voting for nearly 40 years and can tell you that even in the late 1970s and early 1980s there was nothing near the level of disillusion and apathy we feel towards career politicians now. This explains why so many voted for a disruptive change in June 2016. It is just a tragedy that disruptive change was Brexit.

The old parties are stuck in their same old patterns and same old solutions. Their histories are tarnished by the Poll Tax and Bedroom Tax, by Iraq, by tuition fees. Outside of party members (and in Labour’s case, the radicalised young) there is real no enthusiasm for May, Corbyn or poor old Vince. The major parties each got more than 40% at the general election, but that is because of people being scared by the alternative rather than any endorsement of their platforms. Yes, the first-past-the-post system hugely discriminates against minor parties, but on waves of popular enthusiasm the Lib Dems managed 57 seats in 2010 and the Scottish Nationalists 56 in 2015. The 2010 Lib Dems and the 2017 DUP were and are able to greatly influence the course of government policy.

Commentators say you can prove a third party will never succeed because the SDP and UKIP were unable to make major general election breakthroughs.

The SDP failed because it did not target most voters, it was a protest movement against a Labour party becoming increasingly left wing and so was aimed largely at recruiting lifelong Labour voters. UKIP failed because most voters sensibly found their ideas and their leadership repugnant.

A well-financed, baggage-free party of the centre, with policies to reboot Britain and a clear line on Brexit rather than the fudge of the main parties, really could capture the mood of populist insurgency and break the mould this time.

Mike Bennett

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