Do we need a re-set in political culture? We often tie ourselves in knots thinking that Northern Ireland is an exception to the rest of the world, but this week’s guest on #CargoOfBricks Richard Wilson’s experience is much broader and he thinks politicians are falling far short of current needs.
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In it we cover…
- How our Victorian ideas of how representative democracy actually works are being quickly outrun by a connected electorate which is losing its patience with politicians who don’t know how to listen. Accordingly, trust across political identities and ideologies of left and right is falling.
- At the core, politicians need humility in order to balance the top-down flow of information and data from experts and simultaneously engage communities from the bottom up in order to resist the temptation to be falsely definitive at a time when no one has the right answers to hand.
- Engagement is not about technology, but how you use it. Communities are more stable than politics representatives need a long, not a short game. New platforms afford opportunities for using enabling language and open questions to bring issues to ordinary people in a digestible way.
In the flow of the conversation, Richard, a life long fan of Liverpool FC who grew up in that part of north Wales that abuts onto Cheshire and the greater Merseyside area offers Jürgen Klopp as an example of a style of leadership which he refuses to put in a situation where he has to have an answer.
The first step is to set a clear goal (with Klopp that means winning whatever game his team is facing next and serve that without falling into the trap of how public debate can take you very quickly into positions which are unhelpful to the achievement of what long term of objective you’ve set yourself.
Skilled politicians often refuse to be put in a role where they are expected to have answers to complex questions we don’t have. With a clear focus on the first step, and maintaining engagement modern representatives can maintain vital confidence and prevent their communities from dropping into fear.
The quality of relationship politicians seeks must shift from parent-child (or even on some occasions, child-child) to adult-adult, in order to provide a human bridge between top-down resources and expertise to trade more equitably with a clearer understanding of the bottom-up will of the people.
If you would like to get involved in #TheReset with Ulster Bank either as an individual or as part of an organisation, please do get in touch by emailing us at [email protected] with an idea for inclusion in a range of articles or events over September and October.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty