Cosmopolitans v Chauvinists

by Stephen Tall on May 23, 2006

David Aaronovitch makes the point in today’s Times that the bipolar left/right divide in British politics no longer applies:

For years, of course, these allegiances have been breaking up, but the essential divide has been thought to remain. It’s there in the common-place that Tony Blair is right-wing for a Labour man, or that David Cameron is left-wing for a Tory. But the truth has been dawning on many of us for some time now that this way of dividing the political world is an anachronism. It no longer fits the facts. When I look at the candidates for Parliament in my own constituency, the Labourness, Libdemness or Toryness of them no longer seems to be the main question. What I want to know is whether they are a progressive or a reactionary.

So far, so obvious – the argument has been put many times before, most elegantly by Robin Cook in his superb diary/memoir, The Point of Departure, in which he coined the new divide, cosmopolitans v chauvinists. (And about which I eulogised here.)

Still, I hope the fact that mainstream commentators are now beginning to understand that left/right is just so last millennium, Lib Dems who make the self same point will be given longer shrift than usual by tedious media commentators who prefer to deal in binary partisan politics. (Take a bow, thegrauniad‘s Jackie Ashley and BBC1’s This Week.)