In the not too recent past , the electorate would have been forgiven for thinking that the middle ground was the wave of the future.
In 1997, Tony Blair swept in on a landslide buoyed by a theory called 'The Third Way'. The swing to Labour was so massive that it all but wiped out the Conservative Party. Its leader and defeated prime minister, John Major, got the moving vans up to the door of Number 10 in record time, as he himself spent the afternoon at Lords enjoying the cricket.
Those Oxbridge PPEs who followed (and they are legion) worshipped at the shrine of Blairism. They became researchers for their parties; maybe a little bit of university teaching or time in the City; back to some kind of policy unit; then a safe seat was found for them and the climb up the Westminster ladder began.
This was all done with barely any encounter with a real live voter. It wasn't necessary. Tony Blair had shown that it was possible to lead a Party without a base and with next to no relationship with the backbenchers.
So therefore, because his reign was essentially an oligarchy, the King could be undermined from within with barely a leak to the outside.
Blair made the Westminster Village more insular than it had ever been. It has become an ecology of journalists; lobbyists; 24-hour rolling news, and now the internet, bursting at the seams with blogs; the Twitterati (of which I'm one) and various and sundry.
But We The People yearned for old fashioned dividing lines; for clear blue water; for Right and Left again.
In a series of excellent columns, Peter Oborne, writing for the Telegraph nails it. He praises Ed Miliband's conference speech, for example, because Miliband walks the talk. He states that Miliband's oration may have been a bit socialist. But that's really what Labour's soul is.
It's called Labour because it ought to be about working people and their organized labour; the unions that do this; and a land in which things are evenly distributed. The Labour Leader should say these things unabashedly. Being the friend of the City and newspaper moguls and Big Business is the opposite of its mission.
Labour created the NHS and the Welfare State in general. So it is right to not only defend it but promulgate it.
The Conservative Party should be the Party of the Right: small government; the middle class; business, etc.
It should be anti-collectivist and maybe anti what some on the Right call "political correctness", one of the most over-used terms in the language.
Yet, that it was the Conservative Party that led the UK closer to Europe - through Ted Heath - makes perfect sense.
Those well-travelled/ public school educated Tory grandees (Heath was a grammar school boy himself) would have been more comfortable with the notion of Europe.
The outlier that was Margaret Thatcher and her robust Northern Toryism turned the Party around.
She brought into the fold those who might have been part of the upwardly mobile old Labour working class. And they are Eurosceptic to their core. No wonder Labour defectors voted for her in their droves.
This left Labour with socialism as its defining edge, but Thatcher had made it impossible for a socialist to be elected. Tony Blair got that, and so used this realpolitik to achieve his first massive victory.
What Oborne nails in his pieces is that Ed Miliband is leading Labour back to its roots: cradle to grave, full spectrum services for the citizen; universal education and the protection of working people. He'll tax what he perceives as The Rich if he has to. If they go find another country to live and invest in, so be it. He will run on this and perhaps something more, the real spanner in the works for the Tories and UKIP: an in/out referendum on Europe. Frankly, I've never been convinced that Labour was a Europhile Party at its core.
The complaint that Miliband is only talking to his Party, not the nation, is valid right now.
He has to tell them who he is, who they are, and then turn to the electorate and ask them to make their choice. It is clear. It is simple.
Cameron on the other hand, came of political age with the aspiration of bringing Blairism to the unelectable Tories.
After throwing Margaret Thatcher under the bus - a supreme act of cowardice - the Conservatives had to figure out who they were. The next generation decided to be 'Tony's Kids' and are now stuck in that default. They can't move the needle.
But they will have to. Cameron will have to. Against his own natural tendencies and desires - the Leader of the Party will have to move the Conservatives even further to the Right and bring back the ethos of the Thatcher.
He will have to become the kind of Tory that she made. 2015 will be about the bottom line, not only in the economy. But in politics, too.
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