The Brexit disruptors: beyond left and right | FT
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The Brexit disruptors: beyond left and right | FT

November 25, 2019


You disrupted the
leadership campaign. You’re disrupting
the mayoral campaign. You should be the
next prime minister. You’re very sweet. They’ve left the centre. The parties have been captured. They’re not coming back. How can two parties
possibly do justice to what modern Britain is? That sort of sense of
people wanting a disruption is palpable, I think. I’ve seen outsiders
go up in flames because they haven’t
had a clue how the political system and
politics actually work. As an entrepreneur,
when I started out I got nothing but nice
things happen to me. Politics is
completely different. I can’t say anything
nice about it. It is literally a viper’s nest. Political disruptors
are tempting voters away from the UK’s
two big main parties. Competition is fierce with
would-be radical options on the nationalist right and
even on the centre ground. Britain’s politics
is being shaken up. And the result of
December’s general election has never been so uncertain. The 2016 Brexit vote exploded
the usual left-right alignment. There are now at least four
parties battling it out. One of the insurgents,
the Brexit party, is led by Nigel Farage, whose
lifelong dream for the UK to quit the EU may be
about to come true. There will be no Brexit
without the Brexit party. Of that, I’m certain. Brexit’s thrown it all up
in the air because that went beyond left and right. And the political
parties haven’t known how to react to a
major political decision that didn’t fall under party lines. The other challengers
want to stop Brexit. But they also hope to
capitalise on the upheaval. Some form of tumult was probably
inevitable in British politics because whenever you go
through big societal change, you see tumult. Professor Jane Green, of
the British Election Study, maps and measures the UK’s
changing voting patterns. We went to Oxford asked how
Britain went from this to this? From the 1960s through to
today we see more people switching their vote between
general elections over time. So a much more fluid
volatile picture. So does this volatility
mean that it’s kind of fertile territory? That there are
opportunities there for the political disruptors? You’ve got a very
available electorate. You’ve got opportunities
for the political parties. What you’ve also got is
loads of uncertainty. You can see there’s a
disruption going on, and we don’t know where
it’s going to land. Claire Fox, a Libertarian from
the left was elected as an MEP for the Brexit party earlier
this year as voters deserted both Labour and the Tories. Of course, change is always
unpredictable, isn’t it? Makes it scary. So is democracy. But to argue against
disruption on the basis of ‘things worked’ completely
misunderstands that for many people, they didn’t. So we’ve talked a bit about
things being more up for grabs. Yeah. I’m going to try and
ask you to explain where the voters might be. So you think about one dimension
of politics from left to right. And within that
kind of left-right, bread and butter economic kind
of way of seeing the world, lots of people have
left of centre views. Lots people have
right of centre views, but the majority of people
would be in the middle. And therefore, it makes politics
very much about that kind of centre ground, about
competing for the majority of voters. Britain has always been about
understatement, compromise, pragmatism. And I think that’s
where the energy is. I think it resonates deeply. Rory Stewart is
leaving parliament. He’s left the
Conservative party. He wants to reinvent
moderate politics by standing as an independent
candidate for London mayor. I think actually
the UK’s traditions are much more consensual,
much more designed for centre-ground politics than
almost anywhere in the world. That dimension is still very
important to voter choice now. But of course, we’ve all started
seeing the world predominately through the lens of Brexit. And Brexit isn’t about bread
and butter left-right issues on the whole, it’s about
this different dimension that cross cuts the
left-right dimension. It’s divided the party, and
it’s divided the voters. A lot of people who thought
of themselves at centre ground in the old politics, in the new
politics are far from centre ground. Chuka Umunna walked out of
Labour earlier this year, attempted to start a new
anti-Brexit centre party, Change UK, but is now trying
to redefine opposition politics from within the pro-European
Liberal Democrats. Those guys are no
longer centre ground. They are firmly on the liberal,
internationalist, open, anti-authoritarian side
of the new dichotomy. So when people say to me I want
a return to good centre ground policies, I’m kind of like, but
you’re no longer centre ground. You are actually
firmly in one camp. Political scientists
like you are used to thinking about
voters in this rather more complicated way. In the past, we think
about it in terms of people that had more socially
conservative views and more socially liberal views. But also we’re now
thinking much more about people that have
anti-immigration views and also pro-immigration views
and also anti-European or Brexit-supporting, Leave-voting
views or more pro-European, Remain-supporting views. And so we have the
impression that politics has become much more polarised. Both the Brexit party
and the radical Remainers are betting that politics
is now about values. There’s different fault
lines, aren’t there? So what’s happened is rather
than saying the big decision in British politics today
is whether we nationalise the railways it’s
actually our attitude to popular sovereignty. So you asked me the
question, where is the space? Yeah, where’s the opportunity? So on the one hand, we talked
about kind of important. So if this issue
becomes less important, then we might worry
about left-right again. But what if this
issue, dimension, doesn’t become less important? But at the current
time, it feels and looks in terms
of the evidence that people are pretty divided. If you look at some
of the people who’ve been running our country,
some of the decisions we’ve made in the last
decade or so, you go, how is such a brilliant
country in this mess? Simon Franks, once a
committed Labour party backer, is dismayed by
this polarisation. He’s been spending time
and money trying to use his start-up skills to shake
up centre ground politics. The mission was to
scope out initially, is it possible to create a
new political party that could win in one electoral cycle? Can you, in politics, do
something that kind of maps entrepreneurialism
onto party politics? Yes, you can but,
not in the centre. If you’re on the wings
of British politics, or in fact, any politics,
and you have a cause, you can mobilise people
incredibly quickly to bring about a
change because people are so desperate for
that change or believe so strongly in that cause. In the centre it’s much harder
to do because, by definition, you should be more
balanced, more reasonable. You understand that
no one issue is going to make our country
completely better or completely worse. Josef Lentsch believes in
the power of the middle. This Austrian academic helped
start a successful new party and has written a book
on how to make it work. It’s bloody hard. It’s bloody hard
for politicians. These days, the political
itch to be scratched is that many people feel
not represented anymore. And too many of them
then decide to vote for populists and nationalists. But I think many of
them would actually like to have a choice
to vote for something different and constructive. The primary reason why Change
UK didn’t succeed in the way that we would have liked
it to is, as you said, I’m not sure people were looking
for disruption in as much as they were looking
for their politics to be properly represented. But they weren’t necessarily
precious about the vehicle through which you do that. And to try and
create something new in a non-presidential system
is nigh on impossible. In a sense you, can’t just
compete on one dimension. People want to know
where you stand. So if you’re competing
on this dimension, but you’re divided
on this dimension because you’ve got
parties from the left, parties from the right,
then essentially, OK fine. So you’ve got this
bit sorted out. But are you over
here on the left? Or are you here on
the right in terms of where your voters
are likely to be? I think the most important
thing is if you want to build a centrist alternative, that
you’re actually early on are starting to talk to the voters
and start to interlink what I call, ‘islands of discontent.’ Most political
start-ups will fail. I think that’s not a problem. I think actually many, many
need to try for some of them to succeed. Once you’ve broken the
habits of a lifetime – at the European election,
obviously everything got thrown in the air – then
you’re not quite that, we always vote
Labour in our family. We always vote
Tory in our family. Anything can happen. It’s like when MPs rebel
against a whip, right? Once they get the taste for
it, it becomes possible again. Even those people who are
saying: let’s get Brexit done, their argument is,
let’s get Brexit done so we can go back to normal. And I think they underestimate
the appetite for a much more fundamental shift. Nothing’s ever going
to go back, ever. The problem is that the
government of the centre has always seemed terribly sort
of bureaucratic and inert. It doesn’t really
seem to listen. It doesn’t seem to
engage, which gives people the idea that maybe
there’s a silver bullet, maybe there’s some
fantastic thing. And it’s some character. An ideology. Yeah, an ideology. Or a person. Or a person. Like a hand grenade you
can chuck at the system, and the whole thing’s
going to blow up. And suddenly, it’s all
going to be much better. So there’s no messiah coming. No, there can’t be a messiah. I mean, I think I’m also… Not you. No, definitely not me. We’ve had conspicuous
examples of success on both the left and the right. I’m thinking of Nigel
Farage on one side, probably Labour’s
Momentum on the other. But there’s this whole space
in the centre with lots of plotting, lots of activity. But it’s really hard to
make something happen. It’s a much easier message. So Nigel Farage, who I think
is a brilliant communicator and I don’t have this
disregard for him as so many people seem to have. I think he speaks
for a large community of our country about issues
that no one else will talk to. I think the same on the left. Jeremy Corbyn gets on
the stage and says, capitalists are bad people. The reason why your life
isn’t as good as you’d like it is because of that
bunch over there. And some people, they go,
the messiah’s arrived. No one’s got a
monopoly on grievance. In the wake of the crash,
in the wake of austerity, in the wake of
globalisation, taking away the securities that
people took for granted, the question is, what
you do about that? We’ve completely failed to
produce a product that’s really exciting. I mean, none of these
third-party centre party leaders have actually worked out
how to produce something that really makes the public think,
woo, well, OK, all right, actually, I’m not going to vote
the way that my parents voted. This election is not the end. And I think the most
important thing to note is this election’s been called
in very peculiar circumstances. But I personally think that
the genie’s out the bottle. And that what we are likely
to see in the next five years is a very disruptive
political scene. In the first winter
election for decades, established parties are being
buffeted from all sides. There are wide open spaces
in the political landscape and enormous potential
for storms to come. Jane, if you had
to put money on it, would you bet on political
insurgents, either a smaller party or a new party
trying to replace or split one of the two main parties? If the two mainstream parties
adapt their positions, working out kind
of where can they attract the majority of voters,
then it’s very difficult, it’s still very difficult for
minor parties to break through. In normal times, I
would say that it’s impossible to actually get a
new party in the UK parliament. But we are not in normal times. We’re past normal times. And I think, therefore,
don’t give up hope. That there might be
something on the way. We can probably do better
if we think about it, redesign our political system,
reinvigorate our parties, maybe create some
new ones, maybe look at our voting system, look
the way we select MPs, look at the way treat MPs Anyone who believes that
everything goes back to normal is kidding themselves.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. The ballot box is not gonna work anymore, WAR is what you need, destroy the traitors and take back your country by force, it's the only way!!!

  2. Voters are not driven anymore by what they'd want, but by what they'd fear. They are voting against what they'd fear most.
    It's a cynical drive, without hope, without positivity and it works disorienting. Because every party available represents a certain perceived threat to be pursued.
    As with depressed people, it paralyses voters into not being able to choose or into avoiding to think about making hard choices.
    The voters who are still able to rationalise somewhat, prioritise the different threats.
    Political parties have no way to make themselves attractive in such a fearfilled environment. All they can do is make themselves look to be the least threatening party, by clearly taking position against which threats specifically they stand. Or lie like there's no tomorrow, promise utter deliverance from anything bad, offer a messiah to lead the blinded pack into salvation and assign an easily recognisable scapegoat to exclude and sacrifice by holy war.
    In this environment, media such as the FT could help significantly by presenting political parties where they effectively stand versus the threats (e.g. overspending, brexit, climate change, reversal of individual rights, instability) instead of by what they promise to achieve.

  3. Well, when you go against the democratic vote you portray as a dictatorship. Two parties that have each lead the UK to a Brexit vote over decades and then utterly refused to do as instructed? Of course the people are looking elsewhere and there will be plenty looking to stick their nose in the trough and take full advantage of the shift. The worrying thing, of course, is that while they claim to be "new" and "enlightened" parties its just the same people, funded by the same backers, re-branded. You can put new makeup on but a pig is still a pig.

  4. I have a lot of time for Rory Stewart. When he speaks, I listen. He’s so eloquent and puts his points across in the most intelligent but easy to understand way.

  5. typical that the FT fails to see that the big schism came before Brexit with the GFC. That destroyed people's faith in the "centre ground", ie the system. That has led to moves left and right. Chuka Umuna is desperately trying to deny he advocates the status quo, hence naming his erstwhile party, Change UK. It believed in austerity: no change; EU;: no change; military and defence: no change. He is fake

  6. I don't quite see how that academic woman can dare to describe the Brexit Party & Tories as "authoritarian", when you have the Labour Party run by confirmed, property-grabbing Marxists, and the Illiberal Undemocrats wishing to can a democratic vote!

  7. MAGNITUDE 6:66 – near satanic swamp 🇺🇸 2020-11-02. 17:17:45 (UTC) crater swallows satan worshipers 666 miles depth~ USGS.

    Trump successfully drains swamp 🏆

  8. The rotten to the core 2 Party system along with 80 % of the UK Media and the the house of snakes its all over for their Orwellian, Deep State, Illuminate agenda and their reprehensible philosophy, its like watching a snakes that have swallowed their own poison/venom, they writhe and twist before the inevitable..Vote BREXIT Party at the next GE…. DRAIN THE SWAMP. sorry for any inconvenience this may cause the FT.

  9. I really don't understand the middle argument sometimes. Sometimes compromise isn't the logical answer, compromise makes sense when it's a matter of opinion and taste not always.

  10. Globalist lefty idiots who betray democracy supported by a elites living in a bubble. They are a bunch of woke, offended at everything, authoritarian scum. Who have ZERO self awareness and therefore cannot understand 75% of voters.

  11. I enjoy these videos but it really is like watching the news about a foreign country from here in Edinburgh. Both LibDems & Labour are polling about the same as "Other" in Scotland.

    You make no mention at all of the 3rd largest party in the UK (by MPs and membership) – the SNP – who may well hold the balance of power by Christmas. Which also happens to be very centrist if you can get past the drive for independence and look at their policies. In fact the majority of the Scottish indy movement is people wanting to live in a liberal, middle of the road European democracy and seeing the only way to get there is by leaving rUK behind.

  12. The Brexit party = far right authoritarian party funded by dark money and occupying the same space as Boris Johnson's Conservative Party.
    Centrists are playing a dangerous game. I found this very misleading. When did we stop believing in democracy?

  13. What a bunch of Sneering Odious individuals….. Out of touch and out of their narrow minds. As to the majority of comments. … unbelievable arrogance by a suedo metropolitan snob brigade.

  14. One of the big drivers for the situation that we find ourselves in is our electoral system – First Past the Post (FTP). In ‘safe‘ seats it is the winning party’s selection committee who decide who will represent that constituency – not the voters! In ‘three way marginal’ seats the voter has to try to second guess relative popularity of the candidates and will probably ending up voting for their least worst option. FTP really is an awful system. If the two major established parties don’t gain most of the votes, this time, then the results will be very weird. Changing to Proportional Representation won’t solve all the problems but it will enfranchise many voters, will produce a parliament that reflects the voters wishes better and will make things more stable.

  15. The financial times wondering who's going to look after corporate interests now that people have seen through the "all white people are bad" and "all men are bad" narrative, and people are finally again realising the "inhereted privilige is bad" truth. Who's going to be the party of privilige now? the ones at the top of the ponsi scheme of a housing market?
    The conservatives at least admitted they were the party of privilige, will the lib Dems admit that? Or will they just continue to demonise the working class as having too much "white privilige" or too much "male privilige", while calling them just a bunch of racists and sexists – which is why they don't like them, and virtue signal to hide their own massive privilige?

  16. All these politicians and no one to vote for… For Britain Movement is getting places though so I'll be keeping an eye on that.

    Epstein didn't kill himself

  17. Do you remember the days when you had credibility? Respect? Even thanks? How was it possible for your profession to go from there to being trusted less than *a politician*? You'll all be out of work soon and slumming it with the rest of us. Poetic justice, I guess …

  18. False information from academic stating anti European or Pro European Brexiteers are NOT anti European they are ANTI- E/Union not anti European. –she is a typical Remoaner

  19. Wealth distribution is all that matters, the UK itself is over centralised, and yet more are trying to edge their way in, they ought be doing the contrary.

  20. You brits asked for a referendum

    Now the result is out

    All you brits have the obligation to abide by the outcome

    Deal with it.

  21. …and if proportional representation, or even a mixed system such as what is used in the scottish parliament election is not palatable for westminster, then for goodness sake at least a preference system as used in Australia. A brexiters bang on about Europe allegedly being undemocratic yet the voting system in the U.K. is not quite North Korea, but approaching it.

  22. Talk and post as much as you like, it is not going to be Jo Swinson, nobody is that stupid to even contemplate that ….are they ? We went to Oxford ? hah! ….. one of the largest remain areas in the UK ! ….. of course politics is harsh, not always "nice" unfair even, but that in itself is the nature of the beast, when all is said and done, this really comes down to petulance on the part of remain, who couldn't, wouldn't, accept the voting result. so have tried every single means possible to reverse it ….. but the people can see through them, wait and see …… one thing is plainly obvious, we won't be going back into a cosy alliance with the EU anytime soon, so best get used to it.

  23. Beyond democracy more like.
    These tin pot 'people's representatives' simply couldn't stand the idea of the actual people taking back a tiny bit of power from them in the referendum, it drove them demented, & it threatened their cosy progression to some unseen Brussels gravy train job too.
    So they've pushed their luck as far as they can, using the outdated mechanisms to their advantage, having networked their professional escape routes well in advance if that doesn't work, & from the outside it looks unlikely.
    Basically doing what 'elites' have always sorted for themselves.

  24. Brexit isn't about left right or center it never was but now it's about respecting democracy and not respecting democracy it's about listening to the people of your country or listening to evil globalists in Brussels

  25. Scotland the north of Eire Gibraltar are being forced to leave us Europeans bye the english. ENGLISH OUT ON YA OWN…🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🇪🇺🇪🇺🇪🇺😂🤣😅🇪🇺🇪🇺🇪🇺

  26. As usual nonsense about the centre – the normal low wage, lots of war, poverty that all parties except the very left that all prof politicians support.

  27. This is looking slightly outdated already labour is back up to the low 30s, Ldems down to the low teens and the inverse is happening for Tories/Brexit Party. Greens are nowhere to be seen. The 2 party system always wins out.

  28. What a load of trivial twaddle.Westminster is a midden,totally corrupt,just like other western nations.Inter connected swamps,pretending to be holding free and fair elections,in effect controlled puppets are eased in,and until recently voters didn't care who they were as long as they wore the right rosette.Globalist so called elites rule,the pipers ensure they call the tune,by controlling all the major institutions.There is no democracy,and hasn't been for some time,the people are waking up to this fact, thanks to Brexit. The political antics plus the farce in the 'supreme' court put all this on display for anyone in doubt.No one really believes that Boris will deliver, he will do as hes told,as did May.In the words of Private Fraser 'were doomed' unless someone has the guts to take the likes of Soros by his scrawny throat,and kick him and his trillionaire crooks off the planet,and return their vast fortunes to the people.Then we could start afresh, with a reset,more equitable for all monetary system.

  29. Chukka needs chucking off a tall building right on top of Swinson, Corbynov, Abbopotamus and Rory Bleedin'Stewart amongst others. That would be a Jackson Pollock worth hanging on your wall.

  30. We ain't leaving. When will people realise this? After the 57th extension? Although a 2nd ref will no doubt have happened long before that!

  31. Is democracy around the globe under threat of collapsing? …The bigger question is, if so, why? …In a word, 'China'… China's communist system has proven they can get things done in a single day, rather than hold endless committee meetings only to come up with a flawed solution nobody's really happy with, then take months or even years to put it into action, with compromises, flaws and all… Because of the compromises, it is then destined to fail… Whereas China's leader can consult advisers one day, make a decision the following day, and implement the ideal solution the next day, and without any compromise… Democracy is dying of constipation because of overburdening bureaucratic rules and regulations… It is slow to change, infested with corruption, compromised by special interest groups, and too reliant on China with hundreds of thousands of companies setting up shop in China… We have been out-smarted, out-worked, and played for fools… When Richard Nixon arrived in China in 1971 with his checkbook open, the communist government could hardly believe their luck. 👀

  32. Can someome please tell me how the 2019 election vote is uncertain? Labour have no viable stance and want to delay brexit even further. Lib Dems want to remain. Tories have made Brexit the priority and seek to end Brexit with or without a deal. People will vote over Brexit in December and not much else. The Tories will win in a landslide.

  33. This countrys f***ed thanks to all these pro remainers , anti trump , anti brexit , what next to try and stop brexit !! Do these people realise what they are doing

  34. If politics is not seen as a straight line from left to right but more like a circle where the extreme ends meet, you can probably recognize why the extreme left and extreme right both are pro brexit, (but for completely different reasons) and how the establishment tricked the geese into voting for christmas.

  35. Brits will become a minority in the UK in the coming decades all due to government immigration policy – when will this genocidal situation be discussed at a mainstream level?

  36. Considering this is an FT programme I'm surprised to see nothing about the obscene Corruption that riddles the EU. As Baroness Ashton pointed out in Dec 2014, Quote "The MEP's are now STEALING 150 BILLION euros a YEAR, and if this is not stopped this alone will bring down the EU" Unquote !!!!!!!

  37. A libertarian from the left???!!! What none sense. An individualist from a collectivist. A pro small government from the pro bloated huge intrusive government! A capitalist from the anti capitalist! Freedom and liberty from oppression and centralised control. Sounds like she is saying this person has no idea no clue and no insight as to what she stands for. Libertarian and Socialist are mutually exclusive. It is just not possible to be both. They are polar opposites.

  38. It has long been time for a new ideology. The left have done an amazing job with project creeping socialism to somehow convince even otherwise intelligent people that they have some as yet unleashed positive force for good. The left has stood up astonishingly well against the backdrop of the enormity and swelling body of evidence that they are a spent force with a long and well established record for delivering poverty tyranny and oppression. It just can’t go on for much longer the overwhelming case against them is bursting at the seams both here and abroad. The conservatives are more open to debate, while sceptical of change, not ignorant of the wisdom of those past but also not unwilling to build upon that wisdom. They are not ideologically fixated or intellectually stagnant. It is time we viewed socialism as a historical curiosity. We face new challenges and opportunities. Exponential change will spawn an Information Age. Ideas in progress such as Molecular Manufacturing and Nuclear Fusion when mature will being about a new epoch. We will hopefully develop a new response to that, a new set of values, a new ideology. Socialism is not progressive it is quite the opposite. We will put that behind us and make real progress. Literal not leftist progress

  39. Most voters don't trust MPs eney more most MPs dont work for the people eney more they are for self gain…prime example rory Stewart still sulking he wasn't picked for mp

  40. The chart at 8:28 is excellent. It places Change UK on the left. No wonder people like Luciana Berger switched to the Lib Dems. Actual she has moved a lot – from Left/Free (lab), Left/Authority (change) to Right/Free (lib dem). Labour suits me. I want people to be caring (left wing) and free (do what they want to do). Conservative is the worst. Tory – selfish (right wing) and authority (want to enslave others).

  41. BREXIT is an Israeli-ISIS Joint Terrorist attack on the UK and Europe.

    The immediate intended outcome is:

    1. Devalue the GBP and EURO

    2. Weaken the UK and Europe

    3. Strengthen the USD Petrodollar

    The GBP, Euro and USD have all been tactfully converted to fiat currencies, lubricating the downfall of the GBP/Euro.

    The USD can then be used to fund and continue perpetrating Israeli-ISIS Terrorist activities primarily in Palestine and Syria. Thereafter the plot thickens.

    President Vladimir Putin is most delighted for BREXIT to precipitate points 1 & 2.

    (Edits Pending)

  42. Chuka is about to fin d out how hard it is to make a new party.. I thought a party made up of several parties could succeed…but making that party is another thing entirely; alongside being able to realise change due to legislation and law…

  43. Just comply with the results of the original referendum , people are so sick of all the blocking of the will of the people.

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