How can we escape from the endless rounds of Punch and Judy politics?
And so another election goes by, yet again marked by an emphasis, at least as reported in the media, on interparty Punch and Judy politics and personalities, rather than long term strategic policies, and practically no mention by any of the main parties of policies relating to international development, climate change or foreign policy.
It’s all so introspective, as though there is only one world and that is the world inhabited by the citizens of the increasingly dis-UK!
And once again our individual policy makers leap in post election with changes they wish to make to health and education without any apparent consultation with front line workers. In Jeremy Hunt’s latest outburst about providing 24 hour, seven day per week General Practice cover, no mention is made of the fact that the majority of GPs now work part time.
No political party has woken up to the inevitable consequence of the fact that more women now qualify as doctors than men (a trend which began 30 years ago); there are more women in general practice than there are men; that because women understandably want to be at the front line of caring for their families and therefore want to be part-timers, there is a dearth of GPs. And that cannot be solved overnight.
Likewise the answer to failing schools appears to be to provide Heads of excellent schools as mentors, as if they didn’t have enough to do already; no suggestion of the possibility of developing partnerships between schools with different qualities.
So much of the political debate that we have been subjected to over the past weeks has been based on ‘the party and its survival’ and populist appeal, rather than the needs of the country and the wider world. There is a strong feeling of triumphalism from the winners that their party has gained power rather than their policies have been voted for and despair amongst the losers - “what must we do to regain power?” After all, people’s (for that read politician’s) lives and livelihoods are at stake.
My impression is that in every corner of the UK the same conversation is being had. “How can we get away from the adversarial politics in which we seem to be trapped, and move to a consensual form of politics where the issues of the day are discussed openly, honestly and with proper consultation with those who are working in the field?” Everyone is similarly appalled by the demonstration every Wednesday afternoon of the ghastly spectre of combat at PMQs.
We can’t afford not to adopt this consensual approach. The problems are too serious whether climate change, increasing conflict in the Middle East or the disparity between rich and poor at home.
Where is the forum in which we can have the debate about a new form of politics?
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