Readers reply: why are Tories pulled to the right by breakaway parties, but Labour is pulled to the centre?

Why are the Tories pulled to the right by fringe parties, 但 劳动 are pulled to the centre? Barry Kington, Worcester

Send new questions to nq@theguardian.com.

“The centre is where the votes are,” apparently. Evidence (SDP, TIGgers, LibDems) suggest otherwise. But there again, the rightwing media keep telling us differently. JoeRobson

It’s the centre where one finds voters who might change their opinion. Both the Tories and 劳动 have a bedrock of supporters (roughly 25% of voters) who will vote for them come what may. 关于 25-30% on the electoral roll don’t vote (regrettably), that leaves about 20%-25% who are not strongly committed to one party or another, might change their minds, and thus can change the outcome of the election. Mark_MK

Because Labour is constantly led by people who don’t really have principles, they just have a desire for power. Most of the media want rightwing policies, so they attack anyone on the left, tolerate those in the centre, and support those on the right. Rather than stand up for socialist policies and principles that benefit ordinary people, the likes of Starmer and Blair think that they need the support of Murdoch and his cronies in the media, so they do what’s necessary to “win” their support, which is basically to offer us a “lite” version of the Tory brand. donpittodrie

I suspect there are a lot of reasons. The longstanding parties of the left (eg SWP, SPEW etc) don’t stand against Labour as getting the Tories out is seen as the priority. The Labour left has also been seen as the fringe of polite society, and may concentrate in Labour strongholds, and so pose less of an existential threat. Centrist parties, 另一方面, are more likely to take existing MPs and floating voters with them.

Money is also a factor: any rightward drift, for either party, will take donors.

A left/right spectrum oversimplifies things, 也. 在 2015, many Labour voters defected to Ukip, without going through the Tory party, because they shared a social conservatism, as well as a distaste for the EU. When the Tories were seen to move to the right, rejecting a certain kind of metropolitan elitism, it was easy for them to hoover up those votes when Ukip’s vote collapsed after the referendum. JasonJdo

The question frames the argument badly. A clearer and more truthful formulation would be “why do both parties drift rightwards?” There are various answers to that, but one is certainly the nature of our media, largely owned by a small coterie of billionaires who are so patriotic they take good care to minimise their tax in the UK, but still never hesitate to lecture us about patriotism. Left-leaning policies will be attacked ferociously, as will those who espouse them. Right-leaning policies will be seen as “sound, grown-up and realistic”. Whispering_Ned

The Tories are being pulled to the extreme right and Labour are moving to the centre-right to take up the space vacated by the Tories as the “moderate” wing of the Tory party has disintegrated. Only politics to the right of centre are now acceptable to the UK establishment, with anything even vaguely to the left being aggressively dismissed as leftwing extremism. By today’s standards, the postwar Attlee government, with its creation of the NHS would be labelled as communist. emmasdad

The concept of right and left go back to the those on the right bank of the Seine being wealthy and those on the left being more politically progressive. That seems to have become hopelessly outdated – it is more down to the Tories’ politics being more appealing to the authoritarian wealthy who want to keep the less wealthy down while having direct access to their money and labour. Those in Labour are greater in numbers but have less access to the one thing that makes a difference, wealth. Labour therefore has to compromise to attract enough of the Tory heartlands than is comfortable for those in the more “progressive” parts of the party and this inevitably creates tensions and inevitably leads to more infighting. The Tories have no problems like that, they just do greed and they find that alone holds them together. MadorKallan

不. It refers to the seating position of the MPs (députés) in the first national assembly in 1789 on each side of the president of the assembly (supporters of the king to his right; supporters of the revolution to his left). ceciler

Part of the problem is that the centre of gravity for British politics is in Washington not London. Clinton begat Blair, and Trump spawned Johnson. It is not right or left but British politics itself that is pulled whichever way the Americans move. Splutterer

When I was an undergraduate at Manchester in 1978, I snook into a Conservative Students meeting with Sir Keith Joseph. What he said was etched into my memory partly because at the time I thought he was bonkers and then later mainly because I had the painful experience of living to see that he was horrifically portentous. “The problem with British politics is that it is too leftwing,“ 他说. “When we get into office we are going to change that. We are going to slowly ratchet the parameters of the debate to the right. We will arrange it so that what is the centre now will become the extreme left and the centre will be way over to the right. This will have the effect of pulling Labour from where it is now to the right of where Ted Heath’s government was. We will make socialism impossible.”
The rightward drift is/was a deliberate act. EJCribb

Some people who post on here think people don’t read the papers any more. Many of the very poor buy papers because the majority don’t have access to the internet. Tabloids – mostly rightwing – still carry a lot of weight in working-class areas; even when people don’t buy them, the huge headlines are sending a subliminal message every time people walk past a newspaper rack. sydney1894

Because there are two orthogonal spectrums and neither Labour, nor Conservative MPs are a good fit to the UK population. Economically, the population sits a little to the right of the typical Labour MP but the Conservative economic view is a far-out minority opinion. But on the authoritarian spectrum, the population is, 如果有什么, more extreme than the Conservative MPs. So Labour MPs need to move a little right on economics, and a lot right on “liberal values” to pick up more voters, while the Conservative MPs need to move right on the authoritarian spectrum but very left on the economic spectrum to align with the median population. But Conservative MPs are attracted to the party on economics, so their choice is to “betray” why they’re conservatives and move left or adopt a more authoritarian stance. Hence the “war on woke”, “longer sentences” etc. DeeplyDepressed

The left haven’t learned to communicate in the way the right does. Rightwing views are based on looking at the world in the most simplistic way possible. The left tend to try to educate people instead of finding simple slogans and images that carry the messages they want to pass on. rockyrex

It really does bear repeating to the majority it seems (pace Emmasdad), Corbyn-era policies would have sat comfortably within any Labour government until Thatcher, Liberals until the LibDem schism and the arrival of Clegg, and indeed to a few one-nation Tories. Corbyn was and is a left-of-centre democratic socialist, and utterly unremarkable in European terms. What IS remarkable is the bizarre lack of any wider view by those so indoctrinated or opinionated, to see him as “far left” or even “communist”. NotANiceSocialist

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