Monday, 10 May 2010

Press fails to find spirit of new politics

What a fascinating weekend of political manoeuvring despite the fact that we have no idea what is going on within the confines of the Cabinet Office.

Paddy Ashdown being interviewed by Andrew Marr on Sunday morning said he was struck by the new tone that politics has taken on, since Thursday, namely respectful, a willingness to compromise and talk of the ‘national interest’ above party. Michael Gove on the same programme said that he would be willing to give up his Cabinet portfolio (Education) for a LibDem appointment, if asked!

Not everybody feels that way though. Simon Jenkins writing in the Guardian warned voters that this sort of grubby, closed door dealing is what you get with Proportional Representation. I like Jenkins’ stuff but I think he is wrong here. All indications coming from both sides is that substantive discussions of policy in order to find a consensus are taking place, such as how can we find a compromise position on Europe, between the Tory anti-Europe stance and the pro-Europe LibDems. At the moment this does not appear to be just a carving up of Cabinet positions (“You can have the Foreign Office if we can have the DTI”).

Why don’t we recognise consensus building when we see it? Well, it’s been a long time since anybody tried (February 1974 in fact) and a very long time since anyone succeeded. In fact it took the threat of imminent invasion by Nazi Germany to get the last cross-party Government off the ground in this country in 1940.

What is interesting is that the traditional media has so far failed to pick up on this new tone. At opposite ends of the political spectrum both the Guardian and the Telegraph have been stuck in traditional territory with the Guardian still desperately trying to whip up a Lib/Lab deal and warning of knives in the back for Clegg & Co. Meanwhile, the Telegraph commentators barely able to hide their contempt for having to deal with the Liberals.

The intriguing question is whether, if a deal is struck, the newspapers will be forced to temper their scorn for the other side. If they don’t they certainly risk alienating their readerships, because my gut feeling is that the public wants consensus and grown-up politics, not slanging matches and bickering, even if the papers don’t.


  1. 先為別人的快樂著想,是超人;先為自己的快樂著想,是凡人;使別人不快樂,自己也不快樂的,是笨人。 ....................................................

  2. 你可以從外表的美來評論一朵花或一隻蝴蝶,但你不能這樣來評論一個人........................................