Friday, December 15, 2006

Strategy versus Tactics

Much of the daily grind of politics is about the getting and keeping of power, rather than a considered approach to what you do with power once you have got it.

To be honest I think that this is where a lot of the current disillusion with politics emerges from.

If you are political anorak, there are few places better for endless discussions about the mechanics of elections than http://www.politicalbetting.com/

I particularly recommend their latest discussion on the electoral maths of hung Parliaments.

However, there are fewer discussions about first principles- and yet for me, this is what is attractive about the idea of politics. The fundamental questions about what political power is and what the aims and practice of politics should be can be inspiring topics. Young people are passionate about political topics, from the environment to health- overtly political areas- but the business of party politics is viewed with suspicion and even disgust.

We might blame the media, and it is true that the 20 second soundbite is not a good way to judge complicated and difficult areas of policy. However, we should also blame ourselves as political animals for failing to engage fully with the political process. Time and again I see party political point scoring, even when the cause is lost and the points being made are irrelevant. It seems that our determination to support a given position leads to closed minds, and that particularly is what turns people off politics.

Open minded politics is about gaining positive outcomes- the art of the possible- but it is also about putting forward honest ideas and honest choices. In a futile search for passing popularity , most of our politicians sacrifice the truth.

It has not made for a very virtuous political system. If you believe with Aristotle that "All virtue is summed up in dealing justly". Then the compromises and half measures served up as political programmes are distinctly unappealing.

Once again I re-iterate my call for strategic thinking, open minded approaches and honest dealing. Many may consider it a fools errand.

I consider it essential that our political system rediscovers the need for virtue. Long term strategic principles and not short term tactical battles are what is inspiring about politics- and what is necessary.

No comments: