Month: March 2015

A Coalition of the Unthinkable

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How can any large UK political party ensure overwhelming victory, reduce minority parties ‘eating its lunch’, avoid the ordeal of post-election coalition horse-trading and ensure centralist governing policies prevail for the duration of their rule?

Far too many people interviewed by the news media either don’t trust politicians, or cannot make up their mind who to vote for. The issues are too complex. The trade-offs too hard.  The problems too confusing. Voters are told, a vote for one party will ensure another party gets into power.  The political personalities, each convinced their version of Britain’s problem is the right diagnosis.

In the UK, any party seriously wanting to govern, also has to complete an audience with the Queen and convince her their party can govern effectively. An audience at the Palace, where the mud-wrestling of the political chamber is replaced by the rarefied appeal for sovereign approval. After a lifetime of civic duty, the Queen wants what’s best for Britain, long term. Providing one of the checks and balances, her approval is the apolitical endorsement of a viable governing body.

So what to do when majority electoral vote isn’t viable?  Firstly, embrace a statehood state-of-mind. A true statesman or women believes in their country more than their own future. A true statesmen or women seeks political stability on an enduring basis. Arguably, Nelson Mandela sought the first and after many years in prison, had the opportunity to achieve the second. Mandela will remain in the history books, as an exceptional statesman and the father of modern South Africa. What modern day UK politician comes even remotely close to this level of respect and affection?

Secondly, think the unthinkable. A coalition between Labour and the Torys. A coalition of the centre with the centre. In such a coalition, the politics of the centre outweigh the politics of the minority parties, whether UKIP, SNP, Greens or Lib Dem. A coalition where the backbenchers within both parties, holding extreme left or extreme right views, are out-voted by centralist politicians within the two parties.

What the leaders of both main political parties have to do is embrace statesmanhood, fight personal vanity, fight personal insecurity and demonstrate true leadership. Such a coalition would drown out single-issue parties who feel they hold the balance of power. It would drown out the need for serious compromise in the post-election coalition horse-trading. And the need for policy U-turns during a governing political term.

Being centralist doesn’t mean avoiding the necessary measures to cut the UK annual deficit. Or raising taxes that balance the books in the short term but export jobs in the medium term. Welfare payments can become more rigorously means-tested. Tax avoidance more rigorously discouraged. Border controls more rigorously enforced. UK Voters will most likely endue hardship, even if they don’t fully understand the need for it, when it spreads meagre benefits on a fairer basis across society, as perceived by the majority of voters.

The first such Labour-Tory coalition would be a journey of discovery. Five years on, a repeat would be less difficult, since PM and Deputy PM, each, taken from a coalition member may swap, but central policies would prevail. UK voters, especially post-YES/NO referendum Scottish ones,  would realise the futility of voting for any minority party which doesn’t promise the greatest good for the greatest number. UK voters would also more easily understand the political campaigns of two centralist parties, where there is clear campaigning for centralist, moderate outcomes.

In the view of the writer, the purity of the above solution is merely outweighed by the tragedy of human nature, in not being able to realise the obvious solution.

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Help your friends and family to save the World

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The old saying that ‘charity begins at home’ could be usefully extended to ‘charity begins in your circle of friends and family’. Helping your friends and family is simply paying forward the benefits and advantages you have received in your own life. It doesn’t have to have a religious context, or be shouted about from the rooftops.

If there are only ‘six degrees of separation’ to another person on the Planet, perhaps the best pathway to help the World, may well be the ‘rippling outwards’ from the circles of all of our F&F. To elaborate, caring is stronger when the personal connection is stronger. This isn’t about replacing charities and philanthropy, But about widening the definition of such things. After all, charitable activity can be effective, even when the entity concerned isn’t listed on the Charity Commission website. Altruistic acts also occur, because they define us as a higher order species.

Altruism and welfare improvement can sit comfortably outside a commercial relationship. Or outside a charitable organisation with the trappings of a commercial organisation; complete with its KPIs, budgets, organisational hierarchies, stakeholder relationship management and endless committees… Perhaps in a nation where too many people expect the State to solve their own problems, the family connections are real relationships to work on.

Education Funding by the State

A government that lets its State school infrastructure crumble (including in schools recently rated Outstanding by Ofsted), but raises the bar on academic outputs, is simply trying to achieve an education policy goal in spite of itself. Crazy or crazy?

A government that chooses to cut back on education funding, should at least be making grants available to improve income diversification – to upskill staff in effective philanthropic and corporate  fundraising.

A government that wants improved student behaviour in schools, would be wise to demonstrate it cares about such students, by investing in the infrastructure that supports their teaching.

UK General Election looming

Vote for a small party, guarantee coalition uncertainty.

In a healthy society, voter personal honesty and morality has to come even before political honesty. Whether in Scotland or down south, you can’t avoid the results of your own education shortcomings, by continually voting down the government of the day.

Economic death by no cuts, or life from a thousand cuts. The choice no voter wants to make.

In the UK, we spend 4.5 years letting political trivia dominate over the big issues. Let’s at least encourage politicians only to debate the big issues in the run up to the election.

Run from any political party wanting a free lunch for their voters, but World hunger for everyone else.

Political stability comes from alternating broad centralist parties in power, not a mosaic of single issue-minority coalitions.

If the voters don’t become incredibly astute about the issues affecting their nation, how will they know which politicians to rely on?