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Is Britain a centre left country? No.

By Tim Montgomerie

Tomorrow in an article in The Observer Chris Huhne argues that it is (reported here). The man defeated by Nick Clegg for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats joins forces with the Green Party's Caroline Lucas and Labour's John Denham to pen these words:


Putting aside for a moment what Huhne's words mean for Coalition harmony (Cable also argued last week for an anti-Tory majority) and for the Energy & Climate Change Secretary's ambition to succeed Clegg I want to argue with the idea that Britain has a centre left majority.

Four quick points:

  • An anti-Thatcher majority did not mean a majority wanted something more like Footism or Kinnockism;
  • A good portion of Liberal Democrat voters are closer to the Conservatives than Labour and the Lib Dems would lose many of their southern seats if they got into bed with Labour (just as they are losing northern strongholds because of their alliance with Cameron);
  • Opinion evidence such as that produced last week by Policy Exchange on welfare suggests Britain remain a pretty conservative nation;
  • Even if you think Thatcherism never represented the majority of British people I'd argue that a broader and more compassionate conservatism - of the kind I outlined here - is closer to the majority view that the economic denialism of the two Red Eds or the way-out-greenery of Caroline Lucas. Mr Huhne should be more careful about the company he keeps!


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