With Sir Keir Starmer about to be announced the new Labour leader - thank God - can we tackle the myths that 1) he is a centrist and 2) the very idea of “centrism” is accurate political framing for anyone but those on the fringes?
His whole campaign has talked of a radical, transformative agenda. About the failure of the old market model. To say he is a champion of that model is simply not to have listened to a word he’s said.
And then, this absurd, lazy, cartoonish idea that everything that goes on in the centre ground of politics - that is, away from the baying of the diehards - is all the same, and that this homogenous politics is a doctrine whose name is centrism. Rubbish!
I’m old enough to remember the big, meaningful battles between Blair and Major, whom the critics of “centrism” would have you believe were advocating the same thing. They bloody well weren’t. The 1997 election result meant sign up to the EU’s social chapter which Major opposed.
And anyone who remembers the jubilation of that night knows that huge and positive change is augured when government moves from “centre” right to “centre” left. And it came. I think it will come with Keir, too.
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