For vacuous centrism see Rory Stewart and ask him about his bow.
For calculating, simple and easy to digest centrism, look no further than Boris.
Forget Brexit (I know you all wish you could), and concentrate for a moment on the good old fashioned political positioning of Boris and therefore the Conservative party.
There’s an old political mantra that says elections are won and lost on the centre ground.
That seemed to change when we voted to leave the EU.
A new axis emerged of leave and remain, and instead of pursuing leave, as the voters told her to do, Theresa May embarked on a mission to produce the centrists version of Brexit.
Half leave, half remain, with arguably the worst parts of both.
Literally only a politician would ever have come up with it.
And combined with a complete lack of negotiating skills (most of which a 5 year old already understands, but public servants do not), we ended up where we are today. On the threshold of leaving, and with a new PM positioning himself for a General Election.
Leaving is a vote winner. That was proven in 2016, and it still staggers me that senior politicians of all parties didn’t just rush to where the voters were trying to claim them for their own.
But Boris is going further than just espousing a love of leaving.
He is articulating a set of views on the state and the economy that are extremely popular.
I’m referring of course to his championing of capitalism and how it funds our treasured public services.
He doesn’t champion capitalism because it’s virtuous or because of its morality – he wouldn’t know how.
He champions it because he knows a market economy is the only way to pay for the things that the vast, vast majority of this country think have to be run by the state: schools, hospitals, roads…
He probably knows, and this remains to be tested, that taxes need to be lowered, and regulation slashed in order to encourage economic growth and allow innovation in the productive private sector.
But he also knows that nobody questions those socialised parts of our lives like health and education.
Politicians like May, Cameron and Miliband decided that the centre ground was shifting ever leftwards, mistaking the public’s liberal views on society (age, sexual orientation, gender, sex, race – pick an equality) as signals that economic policies of the left should be steered towards too, instead of seeing that economic liberalism was the other form of freedom that people needed to get on with their lives.
None of them ever put up a defence of capitalism. And this is where Boris differs.
He embodies what I’ve taken to call “a la cartism” – a pick and choose approach where the so called best of both ends of that spectrum are taken, rather than merely charting a moderate middle ground of watered down policies.
It’s extreme versions of both ends, but a cunning mix that the country is familiar with.
Of course you want your health service run and owned by the state. Of course government owns the roads.
But what’s new is the other “of course”.
Let the market of everything else grow and generate the money I need to pay for it all.
If you ask people what they believe the government should do, it’s just that.
Which is why Boris is going to win the next election.
The great irony is that If it wasn’t for Brexit then those 21 expelled ex-Tories would be queuing at number 10’s door for a photo op and a ministerial car.
For this is exactly the kind of centrism they advocate.
But blinded by a short term remain stance, those MPs, along with the majority of the opposition parties and independents are missing a huge opportunity and the potential realignment of our politics.
Leavism and a la cartism. It’s where the country is.