Does the UK need a new political party to represent centrist voters?
By Joe Harker
In British politics the two big parties are Labour and Conservative, respectively occupying left and right wings of the political spectrum. When an election comes around they tend to move towards the centre of politics to entice the voters who do not fully agree with either party but could tip the balance if sufficiently wooed.
Neither Labour nor the Tories' core voting base is strong enough to win the election, they've got to win over the folks in the middle to take the reins of government.
However, a new party to "break the Westminster mould" is reportedly being set up with a cash injection of £50 million. This party aims to win the support of voters who occupy the centre ground and to bridge the gap in politics, particularly after the Brexit referendum has split British politics into a more divisive system.
Perhaps there are a significant amount of voters who feel that no major party currently represents them and are waiting for the right one to come along. French President Emmanuel Macron founded his En Marche! party in 2016 and targeted centrist voters, winning the elections a year later. Maybe the UK is ready for something similar that can unite voters on both sides of the political spectrum.
Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Nick Clegg believes the chances of the new party putting up candidates for election is "highly likely" and suggested that people should put aside the tribal affiliations of party politics to follow their principles.
There has been much criticism of the idea of a new political party, with Dominic Lawson of the Daily Mail suggesting that the people willing to contribute to the £50 million for a new party would be better off saving their money. He suggests that there is already a party that occupies the centre ground of politics, the Lib Dems, and suggests their current struggles bode ill for any new party.
The Daily Telegraph believes any new party will be dead in the water without defections from high profile members of Labour and the Tories. They point towards the formation of the Social Democratic Party which benefited from a number of Labour MPs defecting and had the support of 50 per cent of the UK in early 1982, though that figure dropped sharply.
Labour MPs believe there is little to worry about, with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell calling it a "party of the rich, by the rich, for the rich" in reference to the wealthy donors who are providing the funding. Others criticised it as having plenty of starting capital but no ideology, membership or support.
Does the UK need another political party, or will the proposed one achieve little besides spending £50 million on a project doomed to fail?