Our Politicians Have Reached an Impasse: A Compassionate Alliance is the Answer
The resignations of members of the Labour and Tory parties over recent days have exposed the extent of our political crisis. Media speculation about potential conflict between the independents over policy is rife, and both major parties have indulged in blame and recrimination.
In many ways the disaffected MPs have been trapped in a ‘traumatic bond’ with their respective parties, a process which finds parallel in abusive relationships. All consensual relationships start out hopeful; when one party begins to dominate and impose his or her views and demands on the other, instead of walking away, the weaker party tries desperately to change the situation, believing against all the evidence that the abuser will become once again the person they thought they had met, and the situation becomes toxic. Those in power in both major parties can be seen to mirror this dominant behaviour; many of the now independent MPs talk of feeling weakened, disregarded and losing their sense of identity. Attempts to encourage MPs to return or to prevent them from leaving with promises to listen and to take action, which on past experience are likely to be hollow or at least tokenistic, also mirror toxic relationships.
There is talk of creating a ‘centrist’ party by the end of the year; this is the last thing our country needs at the moment. Neither would a 'progressive alliance' solve our political problems, as both terms imply affiliation with particular political perspectives, a factor which has in no small degree led to the current situation. That we might be forced to witness yet more power struggles before a consensus could be achieved by a new party is unthinkable. In what is certainly a disparate group disagreements and obstacles are certain to emerge, which would do nothing to address the urgency of the political crisis and would allow the major parties to score points. Instead those who have been brave enough to walk away and others who will inevitably follow must take this unique opportunity to make radical revisions to the broken system which has led us to this desperate situation.
The independents must put aside political perspectives and work on agreed priorities for the common good, in collaboration with other sympathetic parties. This requires courage, vision and a new kind of political movement. The opposite of a toxic relationship is a ‘compassionate alliance’. In such a relationship the identity and unique contribution of all parties is valued and encouraged and collaboration takes place by building on strengths and agreeing on shared values. A 'Compassionate Alliance for Britain' would concentrate solely on addressing the socio-economic factors which have led to the current impasse, hopefully aided by an extension to the deadline for article 50. Party perspectives would be put aside by mutual agreement in favour of a number of commonly agreed priorities in the interests of Britain and its future as an important voice in the construction of a kinder, safer, more peaceful world. The involvement of non politicians such as high profile supporters, ordinary citizens and crucially young people as consultants and advisers would be essential to re-build trust and to listen, finally and wisely, to the views of the electorate from all sectors.
A compassionate alliance would also encourage MPs from parties with a minority voice in parliament to join the movement without losing their individual identities and exert much greater influence and leadership than if they remained separate, truly Jo Cox's 'More United'. Party allegiances would simply be put aside in a humanistic and philanthropic approach - a simple and empowering step which would enable those who wish to work together unencumbered with disagreements to achieve what partisan politics cannot do.
As a former mediator I have learned that when a situation becomes intractable it is a good idea to put the contentious issue to one side and concentrate on resolving the underlying conflict which brought it about, an approach which almost always facilitates agreement in relation to the 'presenting' problem. That is why I am making the suggestion that a compassionate alliance could do just that - simply deal wisely and sensitively with the crisis at hand and evolve collaboratively as the situation requires when things are much calmer.
If we wish to restore compassion and hope to our society we must do so first at the heart of our politics - the rest will follow suit.
Kath Twigg is a social work lecturer, trainer, mentor and writer. She has written a book entitled ‘The Hall of Mirrors, How to Change Life Patterns and Avoid Toxic Relationships’, which is available in Kindle and paperback versions on Amazon. For more information visit Kath’s website: kathtwigg.co.uk