The most effective deceits are those that are wrapped up in a kernel of truth and Owen Jones is certainly right that postwar consensus-based politics has been damaged by the weakening of the role of the state in a mixed economy and the acceptance of increasing inequality (Centrists attack the left, but they are the true extremists, 17 August).

But that political central ground is defined by the acceptance that there is not a monopoly on truth and thus a willingness to compromise to try to find common ground with those who share core attitudes of openness, toleration and respect for all in our society. That feeds into solid commitments to parliamentary democracy, gradualism, internationalism and the similar seeking of common ground and partnerships with open societies in Europe and elsewhere.

This contrasts with the views we increasingly see from the ideologues on the right and left who seek to divide rather than unite by painting pictures of elite or establishment conspiracies, who have a barely skin-deep commitment to parliamentary democracy and the rule of law, and who see international commitments, responsibilities and relationships as either a threat to their project, win/lose battles, or opportunities for sanctimonious posturing while people such as the Yazidis wait to be massacred on a hillside. The absence of a political centre ground committed to a mixed economy, parliamentary democracy and an open society is indeed a loss.

Owen Jones asks of “centrists”, “Will they raise taxes on the rich and major corporations to end cuts? Will they abolish the burden of student debt? Will utilities be brought into public ownership?” He should ask the same questions of Corbyn’s Labour party if it were to gain power in a post-Brexit UK, when we’ll be desperate for any trade deal and inward investment available; socialist states have never been attractive to international finance. If he really wants the Labour manifesto to come to fruition his priority should now be to support anyone – left, right or centre – who is willing to fight for the UK to remain in the EU.
John Warburton