The middle ground

In two-party politics, success tends to come through capturing a bigger share of the middle ground in the knowledge that anything on your side of that is safe. This is why major parties need to have broad-based support and tend to converge on the centre. The opposite was true in the recent European elections. The electorate was not voting for a party to lead the country. In fact, half of them were voting in the expectation that their favoured candidate would lose their position within months. Both sides wanted a candidate with a clear position on Brexit and that meant moving away from the centre. The result was huge losses for both Tories (9% of vote share) and Labour (14%). Meanwhile Farage’s Brexit party (32%) stepped into the shoes of UKIP (4%), while the Lib Dems (19%) and Greens (11%) saw a surge in support. The coming weeks will likely see the Conservatives being run by a no-deal Brexit Prime Minister (probably Boris) and Labour formally supporting a second referendum with the (credible, based on voting numbers) expectation of Remain. Despite finishing in P5 in the European elections, the Tories are still in the driving seat of the UK Government and so much now hangs on a new leader’s ability to bridge divides within their party. As polarisation of positions grows, however, so does the risk of polarising outcomes.