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The return of the “grown-ups” is nothing to celebrate

Blair and Brown, with Starmer: not the best track record. Kirsty O’Connor/Getty

Look out, says Nick Timothy in The Daily Telegraph: “the technocrats and self-styled moderates are back”. In the Conservative Party, centrists are warning against fighting the culture war and urging their colleagues to embrace immigration; in the Labour Party, Keir Starmer is “purging the hard left” and having weekly phone calls with Tony Blair. For people like FT columnist Janan Ganesh, “the relief is palpable”: the UK, he argued last week, “has become pragmatic again”. This must be a “tempting narrative” for liberals: it allows them to blame the various crises Britain has faced not on their own incompetence, but on all those supposed demagogues who “committed the cardinal sin of listening to the masses”.

But it’s worth remembering how these “so-called grown-ups” did when they were last in charge. They took Britain into “not one but two” unwinnable wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan. They deregulated the banks, allowed Britain’s manufacturing base to wither, and cosied up to Beijing. It’s quite the track record. In reality, the notion that “technocracy means competence, or that centrism means common sense, is self-serving nonsense”. Centrists paint themselves as representatives of the sensible majority, but mainstream opinion is much further to the left of them on economics and to the right on culture. This is not to say there is no need for experts. But the idea that there is no alternative to liberal dogma – on mass immigration, global free trade, and so on – is “simply not true”. The answers to our problems lie in “breaking out of our ideological box, not locking ourselves even more tightly within it”.