Slugger Politics Award pitch: Building trust

Politics would be better if only politicians would …..begin re-building trust in politics, by trusting each other, by engendering trust between parties for the common good, by allowing and facilitating trust in themselves among the governed, and most of all by trusting the people, if given two paths, to choose the right one.

Why is this important? Quite simply because trust is the mortar that binds the fundamental building blocks of democracy together; and without trust these sit uneasily and unjointed, susceptible to both political storms and day by day attrition. Democratic institutions at whatever level, whether high on the hill or around the corner are man made and require human bonding beyond the clause, the contract, and the signature.

So the award would be for building trust, not blind faith but measurable building blocks of trust. For example by allowing the occasional full and frank open debate not set within party lines behind closed doors, by having politicians interacting in public as they do in private, by not adopting a knee-jerk binary allocation of resources, by publishing SMART plans and admitting failure, by relinquishing double jobbing. Or it could be for the simple acts of attending a GAA match, or attending a Remembrance Day service.

Footnote: This is the first in a series of ideas for what *political* behaviour the Slugger O’Toole Awards should be rewarding. We’re looking for more ideas on what we should be rewarding (details here). Once we’ve got a few, we will launch the voting on this section of the awards. We have already opened the voting on the ideas for improving the way the media work – you can rate every idea or add your own here. To find out more about the 2010 awards, see here.

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  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Do we actually need Trust?
    Our system needs neither Trust or Distrust.
    The only advantage to Trust is having a “normal government” and “normal opposition”….or to use an old fashioned term “a voluntary coalition”.
    Clearly thats not in the interests of the two big parties. The Peace Agreement is alas an end in itself….there wont be any tinkering round the edges to placate those still believing in voluntary coalition.
    In an interview with RTEs Gay Byrne last night, Rev Ian Paisley talked about delivering apiece of paper to the IRA (sic) who signed it……and to be fair the IRA had kept its word.
    That seems more than enough “trust”.
    But like I said the system caters for neither Trust or Distrust. Its just the system. Introduce “Trust” and you also introduce “suspicion”. So why bother?
    We are doing very nicely without Trust.

    In an AgendaNI article earlier this year this issue was discussed. I dont have it nearby but I think Peter Cheney wrote it. (apologies if Im wrong). There the usual suspects……Deeney, Wilson, Farry, McFarland and Purvis (yes honestly shes a moderate now) discussed how important it all was ….to them. But seemingly not the wider community.

  • Fair point Fitz, the last thing this place needs is more trust, it’s not as if you can throw a brick at it or make a claim on the compo. Whatever was I thinking? Bit like good manners really, of no practical use whatsoever to those that don’t have them or recognise their value.

  • Granni Trixie

    I think that this is a brilliant idea for an award (on grounds mainly the opposite of FJH’s). However I suggest that you would have to refine the criteria – so many people act on a belief of ‘small steps’ towards trust building.

    “we are doing very nicely without trust” – a wee joke, I presume?

    BTW, is there not a square stone cemented in somewhere in Stormont with the word “TRUST” on it? (seem to remember a ceremony involving Mo Mowlam).

  • I think that the ‘Prisoners Dilemma’ notion is an interesting one here:

    When a pair of suspects don’t trust each other, they dish each other up to the plod.

    Politicians often don’t trust each other to defend *politics* against it’s rivals (pressure groups, the more unscrupulous end of the media, the civil servants who want to sideline politicians, communal interests, etc).

    If politicians could do more to convince us that they place the long-term public interest ahead of their short-term tactical concerns (and I know lots of politicians, and I know that in some cases that this is really the case – they’re not all self-serving shysters), it would be a good thing for all of us.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    “it would be a good thing for all of us”.

    Quite possibly.
    But if its not a good thing for them.then they wont present us with the option. They are all right as they are.
    The politicians that you describe as NOT being self serving shysters might well include Deeney, Wilson, Farry McFarland and……maybe even Dawn Purvis (rapidly on her way to inheriting Mo Mowlams media halo)……but as none of them are likely to have any significant power over the next two decades its hardly an issue.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    ah Granni..if only I was joking.
    My point is that you cant introduce Trust without introducing Distrust.
    And we dont actually need Trust.
    And dont start me on Mo Mowlam…..never was a fan…..never will be.

  • Granni Trixie

    Paul E.

    Thanks for the PD link. However this game theory illuminates only to the extent that it applies to external action of players whereas Trust is an internal state which may or may not be manifest externally.

    When you look at Cameron and the Lib Dem fellow (freudian,cannot think of his name) – so far there seems to be a degree of trust which conveys a positivity to the electorate. Do our politicans convey the same? This is not all down to the fact that one is voluntry and one mandatory, but to human factors and previous patterns of political,sectarian behaviours.

    Even to try to identify examples of where politicans took risks with one another not just in self interest is a worthwhile exercise.

    “they are alright just as they are” – again, this is unsubtle sarcasm, right?

  • Fitz, forget politicians for the moment

    Do you not want trust in your relationship with your children’s teachers (I entrust my child to you) your doctor (I entrust my body to you), your police (I entrust my faith in law and order in you ), your BBC etc etc . Do you not have a right to trust that the doctor and his medical colleagues at the local hospital will act in your best interests?

    Should we exempt politicians from being worthy of trust.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    But I do trust our politicians…..or at least the ones repesenting my ideals and self interest. If they let me down then they pay for it. The public oversees them ultimately.
    I dont expect them to trust each other. Its not in their (or my) interests that they do.
    Doctors of course score highly in trustworthiness….Ive had a few broken bones as a result of a dangerous hobby. But the doctors have bodies which oversee them to ensure that they are trustworthy.
    Likewise Teachers……not my direct concern any more but I made darned sure they knew they were acting “in loco parentis”. There have been horrible abuses of trust in that profession too.
    Not sure why you specify the BBC….but certainly journalists (no oversight) score lowest on any known poll measuring trustworthiness..lower even than politicians.
    Any of Sluggers journo friends anxious to see any oversight?
    Not likely.

  • Never fallen in love then Fitz? That’s a form of trust. Mind you if your lovers let you down … I bet they paid for it (see above)

    But no bother. Trust is good. Sensible trust is the default setting in most well adjusted people. Plan for the best and prepare for the worst. Mutual trust increases the chances of success, mutual distrust is lowest common denominator politics. In life, business, politics if you can’t find someone in whom you can trust it can be very lonely.

  • I really like the idea because it’s not two-dimensional. You can’t just do something that is superficially decent but that masks some kind of surreptitious elephant trap for your opponents. To win an award for this, you’d have to do a ‘taking the first step’ kind of move that provides a good example that other sides can follow.

  • I ‘m offering two dimensional trust as well, folks. No need to feel excluded. Vote for trust.


  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Actually I fall in love several times a day…like most happily married people.
    But surely there is a difference in trusting someone who is actually on the same wavelength with the same goals and aspirations (a wife/hubby)…..than in trusting someone with goals which are actually the direct opposite (political parties).

  • articles

    I would if slugger had not moderated/spiked two of my comments here, without having the common decency to tell me why. Clearly you display little trust towards people who disagree with the sponsors line.

  • Hi Fitz

    Only ribbing; perhaps i should use those awful emoticons.
    Having said that a very smart answer which had it been said by a celebrity of sorts would find its way into those quotation of the year round ups in newspapers, as well as getting you brownie points with your partner.

    As to your second point. Very few people or parties are single issue merchants. All parties have something/many things in common. Trust allows you to identify and narrow the options.

  • When was that Mick? I can’t see any from you (though I’ve only had a quick look). Did it break the comment rules or did it have a few hyperlinks in it? WordPress moderates comments that have lots of links in them.

  • Sorry.Lost in the same language.