Saturday, May 08, 2010

Reflections On The General Election : 1

It has been interesting to take part in much discussion about Thursday’s General Election on facebook. Hung parliaments and social network sites are made for one another (and I mean that as a positive statement).

In my opinion, the result of the election stands as a kairos moment: how are we going to respond? In the face of the biggest budget deficit for 60 years, no one party has the ideas, resources or ability to address the issues we are facing. Just as important, no one party must be made to carry the burden of being made scapegoat for the painful consequences of the difficult decisions that will have to be made. We stand at a once-in-a-generation crossroads. The choice presented to us is this: coalition and cooperation for the greater good; or squabbling for party interests.

After thirty years of presidential and executive style government, within a system that is not presidential and executive in nature, we have the opportunity of leadership that is strong by being greater than party interest. Whether politicians will be able to take this opportunity to repent of one way and believe in a different way remains to be seen. But, while recognising that our political leaders will always let us down, I believe that hope serves us better than cynicism.

As an electorate, we have cast our votes. In some ways, it looks as if we have sent an indecisive signal; and yet, through our choices, together we have been presented with the same kairos moment. Now is the moment of decision. Regardless of who we voted for, we have a choice: will we support the government? There will need to be radical cuts to public spending, and while we will all feel the consequences, the consequences will be felt disproportionally by the poorest in our society. That does not mean that we should spend money we don’t have; but it does mean that as a society we need to ask, how can we support those who are most vulnerable in addition to through public spending? There are no easy answers, but a real need for creative thinking, learning from one another, and acting in partnerships.

Coalition and cooperation, or squabbling over our own interests, is the choice facing all of us right now, not just our politicians.

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