Lord Saatchi attacks rush for centre ground

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Indy Politics

The former Conservative advertising guru credited for helping Margaret Thatcher's rise to power has attacked centre-ground politicians who will say "anything to get elected".

Although the only name mentioned by Maurice Saatchi was Tony Blair, it was clear that his comments applied equally to the Tory leader, David Cameron.

In a pamphlet published yesterday, Lord Saatchi warned that British political life was being undermined by the competition between the two main parties to occupy the centre ground, and to appear to be pragmatic rather than ideological. He said the process was started in the US by Bill Clinton, then taken up in the UK by Tony Blair. He added: "Even the Conservative Party succumbed. Hurt by long years of condemnation for ice-cold brutishness, and anxious to avoid contamination with Thatcherism, it attempted to shed its 'nasty' image with a simple move from right to left."

But he warned the modern electorate was too sophisticated to be fooled. He wrote: "People can now spot a Left/Right 'positioning exercise' a mile off. The motive for these moves is too transparent. Voters always suspected that politicians would say anything to get elected. Now they know it's true." The result, he said, was that "neither" was now most people's favourite political party. He added: "The centre ground is low and flat. From there, you cannot see far. But if you climb to the high ground, there the air is purer. His rallying cry ended: "That is what is needed now to fight the war on apathy at home, and the war on terror abroad. So come on, you Conservatives! Man the ideological barricades."