Centre Ground, Common Ground

At the risk of being shot down by an uberblogger, I have to take issue with Iain Dale's argument that the centre ground is the common ground, mostly because I don't think either exist.

The centre ground is, presumably, the bit in the middle. The middle of what, I hear you cry. It could be between Labour and the Conservatives. Immediately we run into the problem of both parties having wings and factions.

A redraw might have extra axes closer to or further from the line between the two major parties for the LibDems, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Greens and the rest. Straightaway, we're seeing that there have to be multiple axes where you can talk about centre ground between two or three parties across the broad sweep of policies, but as you add others in

Moreover, the common ground and the centre ground is not the same thing. The centre position between a unitary state and Scotland and Wales becoming independent might be a federation composed of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, London, Yorkshire, the North West, Midlands, East, South and South West. That would probably not be acceptable to many people - the centre ground is not the common ground.

Talking of devolution, I believe I'm right in saying that Nye Bevan (and do please correct me) was in favour of states' rights in the USA because it was the only way to achieve socialism and a unitary state in the UK because it was the only way to achieve socialism. The more left-wing position is here the same as (if for different reasons) the right-wing party. Equally, Tam Dalyell, poser of the West Lothian Question, opposed devolution.

The common ground is what parties accept as the playing field. We should have, in some form, an NHS etc. The centre ground is an abstract that may not have any philosophical coherence and may be so unpalatable that it is emphatically not the common ground.



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