Politics without the extremists

Date: Monday 13th May 2019

LIKE many voters, I am distressed by the political impasse over Brexit. The Conservatives have drifted further to the right and the Labour Party have become more left wing, leaving little representation in the middle where the best interests of the country lie.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a Remainer or a Leaver, these extremes do not represent the views of the bulk of the electorate.

Rory Stewart has, by any criterion, represented the local interests of his constituency with distinction. He may not always have been successful and you may not always have agreed with him, but he has supported local initiatives and had national effect in such matters as the improvement of broadband services.

He has reported regularly in your columns and confronted controversy with convincing intellectual vigor. His experience as a junior minister is more difficult to evaluate.

His bold but probably rash promise to resign if he had not succeeded to improve the prison service after a year will not be fulfilled in view of his promotion to the cabinet. So far, there has been no improvement and some of the prison figures show things getting worse.

He has now stated that he wishes to lead the Conservative Party and, if newspaper reports are correct, he wishes to put his name forward for this. On Sunday morning radio I heard him say he wants to represent the middle ground in politics.

The problem is that in politics the middle ground barely exists and where it does exist, it is incoherent. The real challenge is to re-create the middle ground in a way that is recognisable to voters. I suspect that cannot be done without restructuring politics, hopefully at the expense of the extremists in both parties.

My advice to Mr Stewart is join forces with the “like minds” and isolate yourself from the extremes. Unite the centre in politics and break up the destructive two-party hegemony.

Let the sun set on the present Tory Party, there is no saving it from itself. For you to survive in politics, a more radical step is needed.