The appeal of “A return to normalcy”.

I’ve been thinking a lot in the last two days about President Warren Harding’s much mocked call for “A return to normalcy” back in the 1920s….

The world is topsy turvy, conventional wisdom might as well be reading entrails, and nobody knows what the feck is going on, why, or where it is going. I write this blog now mainly as an exercise in recording just how utterly wrong I am about stuff.

But I also find writing about stuff therapeutic, and helpful in terms of organising my thoughts so here goes.

My bold prediction is that the TIG isn’t going to work or go anywhere. Though I say that with very little in the way of conviction. Given the extent to which the world is in flux, and the degree to which a combination of Brexit and Trump is tearing up the pre-existing order, we could well be at one of those rare moments in British politics where things realign.

Even though I don’t think it is going to happen, if the “Tiggers” do really shake up the apple cart I think that a “return to normalcy” will be part of how and why they will do it.

Whatever your options on the correctness or otherwise of the programs; it is undeniable that the respective radical and revolutionary wings of both the Labour and Conservative parties have captured the leadership and agendas of their parties.

They offer starkly different views of the revolutionary utopias that they espouse. But the leadership, and prevailing culture of both parties is either driven by, or in hock to, it’s most radical elements.

Whatever happens over Brexit the ERG are in the driving seat of the Tory party; and Corbyn and Momentum are unassailably in control of the Labour party.

I have argued for a long time that the as things were in our established political consensus until recently that the Labour right, and the Tory left, had more in common with one another than they did with the furthest extreme wings of their own parties politically.

That isn’t to say there are not big differences, there are, even if the hard left and hard right often mistakenly don’t see any political differences in those who are closer to what used to be called the “centre”. These differences will seem quite profound when the Labour Right, and the Tory Modernising Wets were in the majority and in control of their respective parties.

But right now, for quite a lot of people who sit there, clearly there are a fair amount wondering if something new and different might suit them much more.  That the differences that they have are significantly less pronounced than the differences they have with those from the more revolutionary wings of their parties. Thus far we’ve had 11 MPs, it seems inconceivable to me that there now will not be more, and potentially hundreds of Councillors once a new party is formed.

The real question though will be is there any kind of appeal that this group could make to voters that might cut through? Personally I doubt it, but if there is I suspect “Normalcy” will come into it.

The truth is most voters whatever “tribal” allegiance they have tend to be much less radical and revolutionary than activists within parties. A lot of voters, left, centre and right are by nature and instinct “Small c conservative”. Whilst some of us dream of major change and fundamental realignments of society and economy; a large proportion of the electorate want things to be back to normal but for them a little better off.

A new party that based its appeal on being a breath of fresh air, that was going to bring Britain back to normality, the way things were before it all started going crazy. That might well resonate with quite a lot of people even if they don’t agree with the entirety of the political platform. A broadly socially liberal, pro enterprise, remain platform from a party not tarnished with having been the Lib Dems in Government, might find a reasonable amount of appeal to people who think “A plague on both your houses” in respect of Labour and the Tories.

This could become especially relevant if a bad Brexit happens in which I think it is quite likely a very large part of the electorate (approximately 48.1%) may well feel profoundly let down by both Labour and the Conservatives.

Ultimately I don’t think this will happen. For one thing I suspect that politics is in such flex it will probably implode sooner rather than later quite probably before the Tiggers have established a party machinery. Secondly I suspect they will find it very hard to agree on a policy platform that both sets of people they are hoping to appeal to can agree on.

And mostly because for good or for ill, there seems to be a genuine desire for radical change in British politics. I don’t know if that will be Corbyn’s vision or Reess-Mogg’s vision. But I expect one of those competing revolutions to get there in the end.

But I wouldn’t underestimate the small c conservatism of Britain. Nor what I think is likely for a big desire that things should “Return to normalcy”.

I think things worked out pretty well though after the 1920s right? Right?


20. February 2019 by Ralph Ferrett
Categories: Activism | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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