People above Party
Having just watched the first press conference of our new coalition government I have to say I was impressed. Cameron and Clegg came across as composed, mature and collegial. I know it is early days, but it's as if they've had an epiphany and seen a mutual vision of a cooperative future, one where being combative and point scoring isn't going to get them anywhere. A future where the people matter more than the political parties. In the sunny garden of Number 10 Downing Street, there were even birds singing – hopefully auguring well for an attuned duet. Perhaps we can even hope for Socratic dialogue rather than put-down arguments…and even some Big Love for our Big Society?
They appear realistic about the challenges they face – they know it's not going to be a picnic; they've inherited a big mess. They also know there are going to be sticking points where they will have to dig deep and reach compromises they wouldn't have previously entertained. This coalition makes them more accountable; accountable to each other, accountable to their ministers, to MPs, and accountable to the electorate. The country, after all, is made up of people – you and me, and everyone else – and we said we didn't want a single party governing. We got exactly what we voted for. A new style of politics, a new collaboration.
And as they're inviting us to be part of the government, promising to deliver us from 'nanny-stateism', returning us to responsibility and self-empowerment, then we too have to play our part. We may have to relearn how to be decisive and forward thinking. We may have to challenge the press and media on being divisive and adversarial. It's going to be a new style for them – they're used to playing one off against the other and being cynical and pessimistic. Even now they are expressing disbelief and dragging up comments made when Cameron and Clegg were opponents, not allies. It's one thing to be an objective reporter and observer, another to be destructive and carping.
How refreshing would it be if the people and the media could get behind what is a courageous move and encourage this revolution we're part of? How much energy and will would that put behind the tough tasks the government faces? Could it smooth the way and make the rebuilding faster, smoother, stronger?
It's worth a try, in these times of hopeful change.