Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Whatever Brown's idea, its clear that Ashdown and Campbell are missing the lesson of Bayrou. Lots of people say they want a centrist alternative to tired left/right dichotomy; even typing that feels morally satisfying.

But in a bipolar political system, which is nearly inevitable in a unitary circumscription, first past the post electoral system -- and Britain invented both the system and the result -- a centrist party has little to no chance of winning power. 55% of the country wanted Bayrou to be president, but only 18% of the country was willing to vote for him personally and only 5% was willing to vote for his candidates.

The model for the Liberals ought to be their long ago predecessors who held power for at least a generation after they no longer had anywhere near a majority of the electorate (due in part to their own efforts to push through the 2nd and 3rd Reform Bills). They overcome the consistent support of petty merchants and agricultural workers for the Tories by forming the Union with the then-nascent Labour party. (In France, the same was true of the radicals and socialists in the same period.)

So whatever this means for Brown, it certainly means that the Liberals will remain a distant third in all except a few localities.

by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Sat Jun 23rd, 2007 at 03:17:26 AM EST
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