The Spiritual Wisdom of Negotiation
The UK public woke up this Friday to a new phenomenon – a hung parliament. This means that no one party has an overall majority in parliament, which is something Britain is not used to.
Unlike in continental Europe, where coalition governments are the norm because of their electoral system, the UK political system is almost entirely adversarial where one party usually holds all the power and the opposition has none and, as a result, vehement confrontation tends to be the order of the day.
The weekly clash of Prime Ministers’ questions – the world’s first high ratings reality TV show – is the most visible manifestation of this.
However, the view greeting the British public this weekend is something entirely alien; politicians talking to each other. Instead of exaggerating and emphasizing, through loud speakers, the differences between each other, they are actually sitting down and treating one another with mutual respect.
As we speak, the Conservative and Liberal Democratic party are negotiating a compromise program. This form of negotiation is, as the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, himself acknowledged the morning after the election a scenario “unknown to this generation of political leaders."
The sight of our politicians apparently growing up over night to engage in mature adult conversation with each other is truly refreshing and one that much of the public are reacting to favourably.
The impulse to descend back into the confrontational fracas is, however, never likely to be far below the surface. After all ours is a system that goes back several hundred years. The key to success in this new form of adult politics, however, is almost a spiritual one; it is all about honouring the tribal instinct within while at the same remaining anchored to the calm centre that sits at the centre of us all.Continued on the next page