The Scotsman newspaper asserted in its editorial on Saturday 14 December that “Humility, respect and compromise can be good politics”. That is surely a welcome reflection on what now seems essential in our national life. Whatever our perspective, we must accept that, under the present system, there is an outcome to the general election process. We can acknowledge that, for many people, that outcome is not what they wished but it is nevertheless reality.
Those in positions of influence will be wise to recognise the impact of the result on people who hold diverse and deeply held points of view and to offer reassurance that they will seek positive ways forward. Paradoxically perhaps, finding as much common ground as possible in the interests of communities, businesses and individuals is a sure way to rebuild trust and confidence. After all, we need to live together.
All of this can be done without appearing to be weak on overall objectives and long-term goals. Ironically, perhaps, these may be more likely to succeed if short-term behaviour is as constructive as possible, while still being clear about what is important. Seductive though it may seem, things are rarely purely binary, black and white, right or wrong. A zero-sum game leaves no winners, only losers. We must override that.
Somehow, we have to expand the constitutional, social and economic pies in ways which are consistent with addressing the climate emergency. That will take imagination, empathy and wisdom. Great leaders have achieved great things in history by having the courage to shift from confrontation to cooperation. That is surely the challenge our leaders now face.
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