The Brits are openly discussing what we've lacked the conviction to raise in Canada, the need for a new political party.
Ever since Layton/Mulcair and Ignatieff/Trudeau followed dutifully in Harper's steps as he shifted Canada's political centre well and truly to the right, the left/centre-left has languished in Canada, largely unrepresented by parties that had embraced the free market fundamentalist orthodoxy.
The game is up. Neoliberalism, while still practised by Justin Trudeau, has run its course. John Ralston Saul proclaimed the neoliberal era dead in his 2005 book, "The Collapse of Globalism." Since then the IMF and the World Bank have denounced the sham of neoliberalism. Apparently neither Justin nor the Tory or NDP leaders got the memo. The political spectrum in Canada has been so narrowed as to crush any hope for real change from this lot.
There has, however, been movement in Britain, a desire even among the Tory ranks to chart a new path, abandoning the old, corrupt and failed neoliberal model or what Theresa May's campaign literature called "the cult of selfish individualism."
The Guardian's Paul Mason says nothing short of a clean break, a new party not bound by Tory or Labour ties, will save Britain from the iron grip of dying neoliberalism.
James Chapman, a former Daily Mail journalist and former spin doctor for George Osborne and David Davis, who now works for the PR firm Bell Pottinger, wants to launch a new centrist party called the Democrats, consisting of diehard anti-Brexiters from all parties. He claims that two cabinet ministers, several former Tory frontbenchers and even members of the Labour shadow cabinet have been “in touch”.
Chapman’s gambit is welcome because it comes after the early summer promise of a Tony Blair-led move to create a new centre party (emulating Emmanuel Macron’s) fizzled out. Private Eye claims that Blair asked Labour donor and Brexiteer John Mills for money, to no avail. At the annual conference of Progressthere were few takers for my suggestion that they “do a Macron”; in fact, Progress itself is a shrunken force inside the Labour movement and does not look capable of launching anything in the near future.
I want to suggest to those contemplating a new party a different course of action.
The global system is in trouble because it does not work. The European Union likewise. $12tn worth of unconventional monetary policy by central banks has bought time, and filled the cities of the world with speculative apartment blocks and shopping malls, but it has not restored dynamism to the world economy.
That is because the model is broken. A model based on wage stagnation, excess financial profit, relentless privatisation and stagnant productivity was always going to blow up – and that’s what happened in 2008. The decade since has been wasted because, among the wider elite that now fantasises about a new party, there was actually no new thinking.
It is not just political careers at stake: if neoliberalism is dying, thousands of PhDs are worthless; entire legal codes will evaporate; career paths will have to be rethought. Easier to blame the electorate for their stupidity in reaching for the gun of national-centric solutions than re-examine your own flawed assumptions.
Britain has a new and unstable relationship with Europe, in which the EU27 will always have the upper hand, and the resulting frictions will always threaten a repeat of June 2016. And the difference between Corbyn and the Tory right is clear: under no circumstances could Labour present to parliament a deal worse than the present situation, let alone vote for it.
For people who really cannot live with that, who would rather idealise the Europe that smashed Greece while tolerating racists and antisemites in power across eastern Europe, maybe a new party is the only place they’re going to be happy.
But the world has still changed. The global system is fragmenting and demands radical answers that neither Blairism nor Coalition-era Conservatism can offer. A new party would form an emotional comfort blanket: braver to expose yourself to the strategic problem of the age – to ditch the economic strategies of the past 30 years and rethink.