Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

A New Political Age?

Nick Clegg and David Cameron enter Number 10 as Deputy PM and PM

In the upheavals of the last few days, many have talked about a new political age dawning of cooperation over confrontation. Something along the lines of European politics is what we are to expect, apparently, especially if voting reform opens up the field in elections. If the track record of so many media driven prophecies is to be followed, the odds on this being another false dawn are short. Yet I rather hope it is true and that this is a change to something a little different.

If there is one sound rule in politics for anyone to follow it is this: don’t let it get personal. It turns off the voters and, even in two party politics, you will often find yourself having to work with the people you may have just been slagging off. Certainly, those of us in local government would – or should – have learnt this lesson fairly quickly.

It’s to his credit that Nick Clegg took in a light hearted manner the digging up of David Cameron’s comments about Clegg being “a joke”. I’m sure that such legacies of the last election will persist, and we’ll have to accept that. Tongue-in-cheek comments are the stuff of every workplace and we should be grown-up enough to live with them and not escalate the situation.

Chris Huhne ‘our’ new Energy and Climate Change Secretary (it’s weird to be writing that, but we’ll have to get used to it) was being interviewed yesterday when he related his experience as an MEP. Having accused a German MEP of being a “dinosaur” – a very un-European tone of political debate – he then had to approach him a few weeks later for assistance with another issue.

I think the reticence among quite a lot of my party colleagues for the coalition is borne not so much from ideological differences – for in the case of both libertarian and one-nation Tories those differences aren’t as great as outsiders may think – but from our experiences on the ground, where election campaigns have got nasty and the man rather than the ball has been played.

I’m not deluding myself that we’ll all we one big happy family, or that we should always work for compromise and consensus just for the sake of it, rather than as a means of achieving policy goals. This coalition, whether it lasts five years or five months, may be the only one we’ll see for another 65 years. In any case, we will still be fighting elections against the LibDems and others. However, while we may criticise each others policies or philosophy, or what a candidate says or does, let’s not forget we all (hopefully) want the same thing: a better society and country.

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