Seven months ago, Theresa May took to the lectern outside her newly acquired residence to declare that the Government will “make Britain a country that works for everyone”, fusing a centrist tone with one-nation Conservatism. Seven months on however, it proves incredibly difficult to determine May’s position on the left-right political spectrum. Will Theresa May exploit the centre ground and reinforce David Cameron’s legacy, or will she utilise Labour’s demise into Communism and the Brexit opportunity to take a walk down the right path?
77% of the British electorate define themselves as centrist, centre-left or centre-right on the Political spectrum. It is also true that voters can be swayed from a centre-left position to centre-right, depending on the political climate, mood and “celebrity-brand” politics which came to define the silver-tonged Blair era.
Labour’s demise and consequent electoral neutrality presents a mouth-watering opportunity for the aspiring right-wing. In Jeremy Corbyn, Labour have purchased a one-way ticket back to the 1970s. Corbyn has sadistically unleashed a hard-left virus back into his party, spreading Corbynitis into every last centrist facet. Talk of salary caps and murmurs of re-nationalisation are all part of an ideological sentiment that places the country on a fast-track to Socialism – and not the half-hearted Blairite social liberalism, but rather the kind of Communist system that is fundamentally anti-enterprise, illiberal, and culturally Nineteen Eighty Four.
Corbyn is in no rush to adapt his policies towards a viable electoral position, due to either ignorance and ideology (or perhaps a fusion of the two). Corbyn is motivated by ideology and his left-wing principles will not be diluted for electoral gain, while centrist politics cannot support his left-wing agenda. Centrist rhetoric is the antithesis of Marx’s Socialism, and, as Comrade Lenin espoused, “The goal of Socialism is Communism”. There can be no room in Corbyn’s vision for the compromise, and therefore no room in the centre ground for Corbyn.
Will Labour’s shift to the left draw Theresa May into the seemingly desired centre ground? Or will the current political landscape force her further to the right, reigniting the two-party ideological flame that defined the Thatcher years?
May is perhaps the ultimate pragmatist, appreciating that contemporary politics is an increasingly fluid and ever-shifting phenomenon. A “one size fits all” ideological approach will no longer cut the mustard. Policy is shaped by public opinion, public opinion shapes to circumstance, and circumstance changes as quickly as Corbyn’s shadow cabinet. As the former prime minister Harold Macmillan once epitomised, the worries of a politician are dependent on “Events, dear boy, events”.
In this context, perhaps it would be better to stop trying to define the current prime minister’s position as “left” or “right”. The Labour party’s perceived electoral decline and the unique issues facing Britain today (namely Brexit) will enable May to do things differently – she will go “the May Way”.
May’s centrist tones, identified in her rhetoric directed towards the JAMs (Britain’s just-about-managing class), and the competitiveness that a right-wing economic policy can bring about will walk hand in hand. Theresa May will set Britain on a new course that unites equality of opportunity with an economic system cast in a Brexit mould. If she can survive Brexit, that is.
George Robinson is a campaign manager and freelance writer.