Centrism has always been the same product as standard conservatism with a different brand name.
Sometimes – Blair in Britain and Trudeau in Canada – centrist governments have thrown a few pacifying crumbs down to keep the liberals happy and to pretend to differentiate themselves from the worst puppets of financial gangsterism.
Sometimes centrism is blatant exploitative conservatism presently fraudulently during election campaigns as something else – Macron’s arch Thatcherite ideology in France.
Intrinsically, centrism is a con. To perpetuate a con, its enablers need to be either people of quick wit and high intelligence who can focus expertly and relentlessly on a well-designed complicated ruse or else they need to be thick-as-mince platitude spouters who lack the intellectual capability to be distracted by reality or truth.
Labour MP Chuka Umunna has appointed himself as chair of Progressive Centre UK with an annual salary of £65040. Umunna is an archetypal centrist politician. His career is dependent on him being ever so slightly shifted from visible conservatism while not offering anything of substance to the public. It would be unfair to label him as just a careerist because his role has its use as a waster of time and a distraction.
Progressive Centre UK’s Mission Statement is an art piece of meaningless drive.
“We bring together progressive policy-makers and policy-implementers to promote innovative responses to the most important trends shaping our society. As a non-partisan, next generation ideas lab Progressive Centre UK develops and shares forward-looking thinking to address the challenges of the digital age, drawing on the latest innovations and best practice from around the globe. Progressive Centre UK believes we can only build a better tomorrow with modern solutions tailored to our times. At the heart of our mission is the pursuit of inclusive prosperity, opportunity for all, social justice, the defence of the rule of law, a green and sustainable society and fair migration policies.”
At whom could such a statement be aimed? It means nothing to potential voters apart from a very small group of conservatives who try to convince themselves that they aren’t conservatives. But Anna Soubry has only one vote in an election.
The intended recipients of the Mission Statement are compliant media hacks and members of other think-tanks who will willingly regurgitate the tripe to use up TV and radio airtime and newspaper column feet.
In Umunna’s philosophy woolly centrists were called “progressives,” the centre was depicted as an alternative to “far-right and far-left” and criticism of the useless centre was dismissed as “fashionable.”
A précis of Umunna’s explanation of his philosophy is “we are a bit of this and a bit of that” where the “that” is exploitative capitalism and the “this” is a counter balance to the “that.” He is aware that such a stance is contrary to logic and unworkable and that the claim is at the heart of the centrist con. “That” always wins.
“At the core of our beliefs is the value of work,” proclaimed Umunna. Karl Marx discussed “labour value.” It is certain Umunna and Marx had entirely different perspectives and understanding of what “labour value” meant. Umunna perceives the world as employers and employees, a scenario he thinks is unchangeable.
As part of the marketing strategy of his non-politics, Umunna positioned himself and his like-minded colleagues as “leading the progressive charge internationally.” He mentioned changes in government in Spain, Canada and New Zealand, where hard-right conservatives were replaced, and he discussed the policies and intent of the new governments. Interestingly, the respective governments’ policies Umunna applauded are similar to some of the stated aims of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell but Umunna is vehemently opposed to those two. Did that mean Umunna was deceptive in his appreciation of what he called other “progressives” in other countries or, more likely, does he support “progressives” who only address symptoms but not causes of exploitation? His note that New Zealand’s prime minister said any changes would be “fiscally responsible” suggested the latter option is the correct answer to the question above.
Umunna was careful to not explicitly include himself in the “many [who] cite the election of Macron and the formation of En Marche in 2017 as further evidence of the progressive renaissance” as even he has recognised the ardent Thatcherite behaviour of Macron.
There was a defensive undertone to Umunna’s article. He tried to prove he wasn’t useless by associating himself with others who actually exist actively in politics. He concocted the phrase “popular progressive platform” because he thought “populism” is currently popular. An air of desperation permeated his comments.
The article was republished in the Independent from whom Umunna receives £12000 per year for his columns. That is, he has been paid twice for the same article.
Progressive Centre UK is part of an international network called Global Progress that includes think-tanks
Volta includes David Miliband as a board member and described itself as a challenge to “populism.” The others have their own versions of David Miliband several times. All are obsessed with cosmetic changes that are designed to con voters and deter them from considering genuine alternatives.
James Endersby is on the Progressive Centre UK Advisory Board. He is CEO of Opinium. Coincidentally, there is an uncredited blog called Opinium polling. The blog stated that “specially commissioned research shows real appetite for a new [political] party.” Coincidentally, the blog appeared a few days after the announcement of Independent Group. Coincidentally, Progressive Centre UK director Chuka Umunna is a member of Independent Group.
Umunna’s time as an MP is nearing its end. He has no future in politics. His future lies as a professional voice for an empty anti-ideology.
The dimensionless singularity known as the centre has no location; it is outside the political universe.