Sometimes it involves anchors. Sometimes it involves the ground. But consistently it’s about the centre – that’s Nick Clegg’s political positioning of choice.
I’m one of those who instinctively isn’t that keen on talking about a party being in the centre, as it sounds like defining yourself based on what you’re not and based on what other people are (making who you are dependent on what others are) and as it skips past all those things which don’t fit on the left/right spectrum.
However, I’m also a believer that in a democracy it’s the voters who get to choose how politics is viewed and which policies matter the most. Politicians certainly should try to influence what the public thinks on both those points, but politicians who want to win elections – or, to put in a more exalted way, politicians who genuinely believe in the concept of democracy – should also start from understanding and respecting the public’s views. In a democracy, the public get to decide what matters and how issues are seen.
And so, on to the latest YouGov polling about the centre ground.
First off, 48% views themselves as politically in the centre of slightly to its left or right. (14% put themselves further to the left, 12% further to the right and the rest don’t know.)
53% put Nick Clegg in that centre or slightly off-centre bracket, compared to 34% for both David Cameron and Ed Miliband. When it comes to parties, 55% put the Liberal Democrats in the same bracket, compared to 38% for Labour and 31% for the Conservatives.
In the centre is the most popular place with voters, and in the centre is where more people place Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats than other parties and their leaders.