BY JAMIE FOSTER
Sir Vince Cable has met with a former aide of Tony Blair in what appears to be an attempt to form a new party to stop Brexit. Sir Vince missed a crucial Brexit vote to have dinner with Phil Collins, a close ally of Tony Blair (former Blair speech writer and aide Phil Collins – not the Genesis singer). Phil Collins is a well known opponent of Jeremy Corbyn and has been associated with attempts to start a new centrist party in the past.
Oddly there is already a centrist party that opposes Brexit. It is called the Lib Dems. Given the dire straits it finds itself in it is hard to see how a new centrist party that opposes Brexit would do any better. Especially if it is built upon Lib Dems lines. It is not as if the country is calling out for a way to elect Tony Blair or Vince Cable to public office. The diehard remainers massively overestimate the number of people who want to prevent Brexit. Most people just want it to be over and done with.
The dream of a new centrist party is an old one and, with Corbyn at the helm of Labour there is something to be said for a party that could attract the talents of centrist Labour politicians. The problem is that a party that opposes Brexit is a party born with a noose around its own neck. Brexit is the will of the people as expressed in a referendum. A party created to oppose that position is fundamentally anti democratic. It is a party that will have to call for popular support by opposing the people it would rely on for that support. To build a party exclusively from the losers of a referendum by promising to overturn the result of that referendum is to build a party that opposes the normal workings of democracy.
In many ways such a party would be a natural extension of the Liberal Democrats, who at their heart are neither liberal nor democratic. As a party they are in favour of more regulation and want to overturn the referendum result. Illiberal and Anti democratic. No surprise then they are massively in favour of the EU, which is in itself an anti democratic institution.
So who would vote for this new party if it got off the ground? No Tory voter would touch a party made up of Lib Dem and Labour elements. Clearly no one who ever voted UKIP would vote for it. If it is to attract Lib Dem voters, it is fishing in a very small pool indeed. It would therefore be dependant for its vote on Labour voters. Many traditional Labour voters voted leave in the referendum and so would not vote for the new party. It would have to rely on remainer voters who were tired of Corbyn and wanted a way to express their opposition to Brexit. This is a very small number of voters to base an entire political party on.
The Lib Dems themselves are partly based on a party that was a new centrist answer to old two party political problems.. The SDP was born to appeal to voters on the middle ground. It never succeeded as a political party in its own right and merged with the liberals to form a party that also never threatened to hold power on its own. A new party would have to do something entirely different to both the SDP and the Lib Dems in order to gain success. It is hard to see how an anti populist party is going to succeed in the current climate.
So Vince Cable and Tony Blair can have their clandestine meetings and devise their great plans but the reality is that the sort of party they envisage isn’t needed at the moment. There is not a huge, unrepresented anti Brexit population crying out for representation. The new party would just be the old elite playing games with itself. Brexit will happen regardless of what Tony and Vince plot. It was voted for by a majority in a properly held referendum. Democracy requires it to happen and it will happen. The main beneficiary of yet another left wing party splitting the vote on the left would be the Tory Party. It is hard to imagine that this is really what Vince and Tony had in mind, whatever their opinions on the useless Jeremy Corbyn.