The Institute of Art and Ideas asks whether the traditional divide between left and right is defunct, and if the political landscape is set to become dominated by a choice between open and closed politics. 

Amidst left and right populist surges, there was a small concession for progressive, centrist politics this week. In an affluent and picturesque suburb of south-west London, mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith lost his Richmond seat to Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney. This victory comes in the wake of Tony Blair’s political renaissance, flagged by his interview with the New Statesman last week. During the interview, he expressed dismay at the current political climate. He was careful to express his dismay alongside a sense of ‘motivation’. Those dissatisfied with populism had found themselves ‘politically homeless’ and now required a strong, centrist and progressive voice to re-home them. Blair also made reference to a new political order, in which allegiance to left or right was replaced by allegiance to ‘open’ or ‘closed’. The Institute of Art and Ideas has long debated the birth of open versus closed. Have left and right become entirely populist? Is open versus closed the vehicle by which we can drive politics out of the populist death-trap and into progressive centrism? Or will left and right remain at the heart of political identity? Labour politician Jon Cruddas and Conservative MP Charlotte Leslie are joined by Chairman of the Open Data Institute Nigel Shadbolt to explore the prospect of new political landscapes. This debate was created in association with Prospect Magazine.

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