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Make it a done deal: Let’s tick off our ‘to do’ list together


Make it a done deal: Let’s tick off our ‘to do’ list together

We need a deliverable manifesto that anticipates honest, practical, do-able, endurable solutions

Mark Barnes

I read in The Spectator that the Labour Party in the UK feels that, for the first time, it is able to dedicate itself to the interests of the working class, having got rid of the last of its right-wingers. Their assertion that “it’s not the triumph of a fringe, but the expulsion of a fringe”  got me thinking.
I began to wonder who’s who, in that context, at home? I have often wondered at the purpose of politics, at the cause and effect of democracy. 
What defines our core? Who are our majority, really? Who is aligned? What do they want?
After paying for the holidays and the first term of school fees, everyone is a bit broke. I find people nervous, uncertain about the future and in the doldrums, despite the promise of a new dawn. There’s been serious recent change and more is coming, no doubt. We may, at last, be at the beginning of our enduring prosperity. We might, at last, answer the call to unity, to overcome the apartness we still live in. We may finally all stand together to fight the pitfalls we’ve experienced from being apart – the fragility of our apartness so obvious in the failures around and between us.My sense is that we will find that the overwhelming majority of us, once we cut through the popular rhetoric, want the same things. We will also find that we can only get them if we work and walk together. It is indeed the fringe that needs to be expelled, so that the will of the majority can prevail.
We are beset by party-turned-protest politics – with everyone shouting (some literally) for an early pole position on the grid of the race for the next at least five, if not 10, years of government.
It is that time when performance has to fight with promise. Incumbents have to defend track records, challengers only have to imagine better futures.
Among all this jostling for position, the loudest arguments are about what is wrong now – that’s easy stuff to roll out. Much harder is to find a deliverable manifesto that anticipates honest, practical, do-able, endurable solutions and is prepared for the hard work and difficult decisions that will make things happen.
Our common enemies have already been defined, and they are obvious – poverty, inequality and unemployment. There is little merit or wisdom in aspirant leaders restating these problems. The challenge is how we can get things done together, not who wants to be in charge.
Of course elections are about individual leaders, about personalities, popularity, charm, promise and history, but I’m not sure we have the time for any more mistakes. We need to vote about the rules of engagement for our future, not only who will have a bash at taking us there. This time it has to be more about the policy than the person.The statistics on our economy  paint a picture of looming despair, or even economic class war. A country in as much trouble as we are cannot afford to squabble over who wants what (or who’s got what) instead of searching for the right formula for participation and growth, given the circumstances.
The word “partnership” will frequently emerge as the key to the solution. In these future partnerships, the state, as the biggest player in the economy, will have to come to the party – as enabler and participant – however difficult those simultaneous mandates may be to balance. Once the way forward has been agreed we, the people, need to unreservedly back the team chosen to take us there, resolutely, by our actions in everyday life, among ourselves, on the streets. But they need to back us as well. The state needs to invest, invest, invest in us, its people, beyond catch up and keep going, into the risks of future development, playing to our strengths as a country, and our mix as a people. There is no place quite like us, but we are at risk.
Only by embracing us, investing purposely, locally, will we attract the foreign direct investment we need to lift us up to where the view is clear.
Set aside party victories, search instead for new definitions of common cause.
The opportunity is upon us, now. Show us your “to do” list for the next five years, now, and your “done” list in five years’ time, and we’ll vote for you to govern us for the next 10 years.
– Mark Barnes is CEO of the Post Office

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