Election Reflection

Well it’s all over. These gladiatorial contests every few years pit rival parties against each other: fighting each other seems to be their main reason to exist. Old, outdated arguments are endlessly trotted out. The mudslinging and excessively adversarial nature of these contests is deeply off-putting to most people. Nobody is asking what the areas of common ground are, and how we could best build an effective consensus on achieving worthwhile goals.

If we look for examples of successful governance there are lots of very divergent examples to learn from. Singapore has over the last fifty years achieved greater gains in life expectancy, education and prosperity than any country, yet could hardly be described as democratic. The Scandinavian model of high taxes and outstandingly good public services has been achieved broadly through coalitions and consensual goal setting. Uruguay has a radical leftist government, yet unlike many other Latin American leftist governments it seems to be achieving remarkably effective outcomes.

In each of these very different examples there seems to be a basic trust between the people and their leaders. Meanwhile in countless other countries corruption, nepotism and stupidity are undermining the effectiveness of governance and the respect people have for their political leaders. In the UK expenses scandals, cash for questions and the too close links between bankers, corporations and politicians have all served to further lower the respect British people have for the majority of their politicians.

Adversarial political contests such as the one we’ve just had seem a very poor mechanism for identifying goals that the British people might unite around. Securing a prosperous, ecologically sustainable and socially just future seems to me to be such a goal. Looking at examples of innovation and the achievement of broadly beneficial outcomes from around the World and from within our own communities might be a better place to start than the endless repetition of outdated and entrenched adversarial positions. There is much going on in the World that we should celebrate, and learn from. In these blogs I try and highlight some of the best ideas and technologies that we as a country should be developing, and which I’d love our politicians to be aware of.