Friday, 16 June 2017

The life of a centrist

With all this talk of the election and manifestos, Brexit and dementia taxes, young vs old, poor vs rich, it's easy to lose a sense of where people stand on the political spectrum. I noticed this in a discussion I had the other day with friends about the result. By the end of it I realised I must have sounded like somewhat of a Theresa May supporter, which is about a million miles (some political hyperbole might have been injected there for effect) from my actual opinion of that "bloody difficult woman" (bloody incompetent perhaps?). It is merely a testament to just how much I disagree with Corbyn and his bonkers plans that I ended up virtually defending May, though not quite.
Yet bizarrely given that opening I probably have more in common with Corbyn than I do with May when it comes to the overarching aims of my politics, that being a desire to see the government spend most of its energy helping the poorest in society and those that need the most support, on the principle that the rich are much better placed to look after themselves. You could call me "Blue Labour" or perhaps a "Red Tory". I prefer the term centrist, in the true sense of seeking the political centre ground and trying to balance all the competing elements and demands that are made on government.

Indeed, many years ago when someone once asked me (after many an alcoholic beverage) which party I would stand for if I could choose, and having dismissed my first reply of "none, because they're all bastards", it dawned on me that the answer was simply that it wouldn't matter because I'd be largely unelectable anyway for a variety of reasons, prime among which being that I probably wouldn't be able to convince enough people of any one persuasion to vote for me.

As a general centrist I'm too right wing for the lefties, too left wing for the righties(?), too liberal for the conservatives, too conservative for the liberals, too on the side of the rich for the poor, too on the side of the poor for the rich, both too pro-immigration and not pro-immigration enough for either of the extremes of the argument, and generally nobody's "friend" even if I'm nobody's enemy. Such is the lot of the centrist.

It's this bizarre set of attributes that can lead me on one day to sound like I'm fighting the corner for Mrs May and on another supporting Jeremy Corbyn, despite essentially opposing both. In a very small way I kind of envy those who have a firm place on the political spectrum. It must be nice to have people within easy reach who agree with you almost wholeheartedly on political issues, though such an ideas echo chamber can't be good for evolving your thinking. And that conversely is one of the things I value most about being nobody's friend politically; the fresh ideas that come from debating with others of a different viewpoint.

So why am I talking about all this on a defence minded blog? Well partly because politics creeps in every now and again, and partly because I find myself in essentially the same position on defence, that of being a centrist when it comes to taking sides in the arguments between the different services. Navy, army, air force, they all contribute different elements to the national whole. All have their own advantages in certain scenarios and all their own disadvantages. As a rule, I'd prefer to see all three maintained and properly funded, as opposed to the all too frequent and - for me - eye roll inducing arguments about how this money should be taken away from service A and given to service B etc.

It's probably my major hobby horse when it comes to defence; the desire to see all three services with the equipment they need and used in an interlocking manner that allows all three services to support one another and to cover for each other when needed, yet at the same time acknowledging that the less dependent they are upon one another the more freedom they give to each other to focus on their core roles. It means many of the RAF people don't like me because I'm too army/navy, many of the army people don't like me because I'm too RAF/navy, and many of the navy people don't like me because I'm too RAF/army.

The life of a centrist eh? F**k you all 😉


I may or may not rustle up an example manifesto at some point to prove my point, if enough people are interested or I just get bored and need some clickbait-ish content.

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