Liberal Democrats continue to be irrelevant, rightly forever condemned by the Clegg/Cameron alliance, and the opponents of Corbyn in Labour continue to fail and to diminish. Consequently, some opportunists deduce, deliberately, that a new centrist party is needed. This deduction is more than false: It is a con.
The two themes that define the intent and strategy of these snake oil salespersons are:
- Pretend to be opposed to Tory enabling of free market annihilation of society.
- Use opposition to Brexit as a tool to attack Labour.
There is little or no difference between the Tory destruction of society and the true intent of any of these self-ascribed centrists. Variations on a theme. The latter pretend to be different to acquire support from people who are opposed to the Tories; simultaneously, they conveniently distract attention from genuine opponents of Tory criminality.
Opposition to Brexit should focus on the Tory government’s shambolic and lazy progress and on its intent to use Brexit as a tool to further destroy the NHS, human rights, free speech, workers’ rights, tenants’ rights and access to justice while enabling further mass tax avoidance for the wealthiest. Conversely, centrists prefer to object to anything that Corbyn or Starmer say, or don’t say, or might say; these complaints never match the facts of Labour’s plans or statements.
Advance and Grenfell
Created by Annabel Mullin, a former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate, Advance follows the normal centrist template described above. She invented Advance to take advantage of focus on Kensington (and on its Tory council) following the Grenfell Tower fire. Her website, Advance, explains how the plans for the “party” (primarily for the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea) have no substance and how they refrain from bold, necessary and effective action.
In Advance education Mullin claimed that Advance wants to “engage young people in the life of our community so they feel they have ownership” because “too many have lost their lives or been scarred for life by gang related violence.” She avoided blaming savage Tory cuts (locally and nationally) to state education and avoided blaming the lack of availability of full-time properly paid employment and apprenticeships for school leavers. Advance’s solutions are “buddy schemes,” “mentoring schemes” and “identifying internship opportunities.” There is a haughty tone to how she views the young residents of Kensington.
In Advance housing there was no mention of council house building. Instead, there was a woolly proposal about part-private newly built affordable homes. The only mention of dealing with the thousands of empty properties in Kensington that are owned by absentee investors as a money-laundering tactic, and who pay no tax in the UK, was a proposal for higher council tax for them. (These houses and apartments should be acquired for use with no compensation for the absent tax-dodging “owners.”)
A letter sent by Mullin to the Tory-edited Evening Standard, Advance letter on Brexit, included typical anti-Corbyn nonsense:
“This is a sign that Labour is being controlled by Momentum and that it is protecting Jeremy Corbyn from the embarrassment of having to take a position on the most crucial matter of our generation. It is an affront to democracy and an abdication of Labour’s duty as the Opposition.”
Such stupidity and misrepresentation have been given the peremptory responses they deserve many times. Mullin’s comments revealed a paucity of cohesive argument.
Her twitter account and the party account are packed full of links to right-wing journalists attacking Labour and nonsense about Russia being to blame for everything. There is also this gem:
Suspicion exists that Advance is a one person operation. Hollowness of ideas matched by hollowness of membership? However small it may be, Advance was able to acquire TV interviews to accompany its “launch.” A triumph of PR over substance? It is another limp centrist invention bereft of analyses, of ideas and of intelligence. The centre of British politics has collapsed to a singularity. This is welcome news.