I suppose you can expect no unity between political opposites even though the issues facing us at the moment are bigger than any political divides. Since Covid we seem to have been in a permanent state of emergency. The toppling of food security has probably been one of the biggest of issues, where one would have hoped the best minds could have been drawn together to solve problems around the cost of living crisis. Inflation needs cooperation to be defeated, yet partisanship rules the roost.
Of course, our combative political system means whoever is in power will be the butt of whoever is not. Point scoring is highly necessary, it seems, when elections loom. You have to gain those precious percentage points that indicate who is to be the next winner. It’s be elected or be rejected. And that means you have to be seen to be separate at every available moment so that the electorate can see who’s got what to offer.
The other night I was reflecting on this politically combative world we live in when I heard that police officer sergeant Graham Saville of the Nottinghamshire police died trying to save a member of the public. How does a family cope with that terrible reality that a police officer can never be assured of returning from their last shift? A brave officer who risks his life for the public good. That he died will echo for the rest of the century for those he has left behind.
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Selflessness in a world that seems riddled with disdain and disagreement. With jockeying for power. With self-advancement. For below all of that political anger and disdain is a desire for self-advancement. Rishi Sunak was desperate to grasp the reins of power, and Starmer is no shrinking violet in desiring the same. Yet going about the world are the many who define their path by the desire to serve the interests of others. Does one not pollute the other?
It may appear unkind even to put two opposites together – selflessness and ambition. Especially when virtually every political leader, when asked why they entered politics, never answers that it is because of their own desire to make a mark in the world. The future multi-millionaire Tony Blair once said that he entered politics to rid us of poverty and need. I cannot remember any politician not making such Blair-like claims.