The Politics of Governance, Media and the Culture of Critique

So we now have a government as determined by the polls. It is a coalition between two political parties that before the elections could have been considered as poles apart on a number of key issues. Now, through negotiation, in the interest of the nation(s) [as we are told], pragmatism and through politicking we have what in the view of many will make for interesting governance.

This, however, is not the feeling of some – including the media and the political pundits whose numerous comments and pieces, while they may have substance and insights, seem to be sharply judgemental, pessimistic and scaremongering at such an early stage of this new government. Yes, there is need to read the signs, but there is a world of difference between making rational predictions and wanting to jump on the kind of bad news that will sell. It is true that both leaders of the two parties have much to do in terms of winning some of their more “fixed” or “stuck” members. This, of course, is part of the work of politics whether in coalition government or in single party governance in a democratic society.

What is striking, however, about much of the comments and critique of the coalition is the way some political pundits and the media go all out to make a case against the coalition. In fact one is reasonably led to believe that these freedom-minded people and defenders of democracy/ free speech seem unable to recognise that it is through a democratic process that the voting population forced a coalition. But what is more striking for me is the unwillingness of these critical voices to give coalition and working together a chance for the common good of the whole country. If on other occasions political parties in the opposition have been known to support programmes of those in government, why can’t two political parties of differing ideological position(s) attempt to work together through compromise and consensus for the common good?

I wonder if these critical voices may wish to consider interrogating some of their own prejudices and arrogance. How, for instance, have they arrived at a conclusion or a view? Is it all by themselves or in and through conversations with colleagues that they may differ with? Is it not possible that people with divergent views and different ideological perspectives and entry points can work and dialogue together for the well-being of all?

Whether it is a conservative, liberal democrat or a labour person who is sceptical about a coalition government, I wonder if at the heart of the matter is one’s own sense of insecurity, the fear of change and the limits (and possible suffocating arrogance) of armchair liberalism. While there is much to critique both Cameron and Clegg for on the process of forming a government (for instance the lack of diversity in their appointments) one has to concede that, given the risk of a backlash from their supporters, they have demonstrated a sense of confidence and risk to be able to take this bold step of working together for the common good of all. Perhaps, our media can follow this example for the sake of the democratic ideals it defends.

© copyright May 18 2010
image jagessar

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