and not content

Consensus. It cannot possibly be good for you. All credit to the new administration, and I wish them well, for the tasks are huge. If the United Kingdom had to have a coalition government, as opposed to no government at all, then there is no doubt that this new version is bold, imaginative and might even work.

Indeed the next few years should prove to be both interesting and exciting, and I don’t mean learning how to live with less money and fewer public services, but what it will mean for the political life of this country. Who knows, in the economic crisis, it might prove to be just what was needed.

But what I do hate, with a passion, are the expressions of delight and enthusiasm for what has been called a ‘new way of doing politics’. Optimism is not the problem; I might be a good deal more cautious, but I don’t mind optimism. No, the real and insidious problem is with this mushy, feel-good wallowing in consensual empowerment. ‘Every vote counts’? Not if it means that ‘everyone must have prizes’. Opposition, difference, disagreement – all absolutely crucial to the running of government. Imagine the horror if we adopted a circular or even semi-circular parliament chamber (Church House style), and coalition consensus became the norm.

I am lazy. I do not intend to be, but I am a sinner and I am lazy. I don’t think as well or as often as I ought. Indeed, if it were not for those who disagree with me vehemently, and go out of their way to tell me so, I might not bother to question my judgements at all. And I am not the only lazy person in this country. Coalition and consensus? It is a recipe for intellectual sloths.

John Turnbull ND

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