2 thoughts on “What is centrism?”

  1. Interesting piece, and it’s particularly interesting to apply the distinction you make to New Labour – which, although it was seen by many of its apologists and supporters as centrism #2 (the ‘ice cream seller’ model), was surely a classic example of shreds-and-patches centrism #1. Not, however, centrism on the basis of balancing Labour policies with right-wing ones; it was very much a centre-right formation, balanced with a few appeals to the Left. I guess you could say something similar of Orange Book liberalism.

  2. You make a useful distinction, but take for granted that left and right are reasonably precise terms that express realities across political discussion. That is true for issues like taxation policy and a strong NHS versus private care (unless private care is subsidised to make it available to all), but not for devolution or green issues. Will those who tend to be in the centre on what the top rate of income tax should be, also tend to be in the centre on more or less decision-making freedom for local authorities? We tend to assume that left and right equate to a packet of attitudes, so to be anti-fracking is left and to be anti-immigration is right, to be big state is left and small state is right, but over the period when we’ve been thinking in left-right terms, all these things have shifted between one package and the other.

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