Traditionally, the Labour Party, like all parties, usually loses general elections because it drifts too far away from the political centre. How “centrist” or “extreme” a party is has long proved a reliable guide to political success and collapse.

So it is easy to conclude that Labour’s historic failure in this general election is because it has, once again, wandered too far from this electoral happy hunting ground. And yet it is not entirely clear where the political centre now resides as we enter the third decade of the 21st century. It has been convulsing rather spectacularly, and confusingly. That is why The Independent has commissioned a series of articles on the elusive centre-ground and its future, starting today with a thoughtful contribution from Sir Vince Cable.

In fact there seem to be two centres of gravity. One is the traditional one, the class-based political model that favoured parties that triangulated themselves into a point equidistant from the extremes. The mass of voters were to be found towards the middle of the space, and that is where an election would be won or lost.

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