Saturday, 8 May 2010

Seeing the Big Picture

There are different ways to fulfil a task. One can do it my way, the familiar way, the way we've always done it. Or one can try to see the bigger picture and respond as actual circumstances demand.

David Cameron has surprised by stepping out of his Conservative clothing and showing willingness to consider other modes of operation to address the task he has been set of governing the country.

Some, especially in the Conservative party, may find Cameron's flexibility no surprise at all. For some dedicated activists, it may confirm he's no Conservative at all. But for others, seeing the bigger picture, inside and outside the party, it may confirm him as a statesman of our times.

Cameron could have opted for the challenge of a minority administration, but he evidently saw – ahead of many commentators – that this would not deliver 'strong, stable and decisive government'.

So he's gone further and faster than many could imagine to bring the political crisis the indecisive election has caused to a stable end.

The negotiations to secure a deal with the LibDems to form a new government will probably, inevitably reveal shades of the shabbiness we've come to associate with such deals.

But the difference with coalition deals of the past is that this one is not intended to support a weak and disgraced government. It is intended to introduce new, fresh government that can survive the party politics of parliament and deliver the decision-making the country urgently needs.

And there are political advantages for the Conservatives. It is possible that a Tory–LibDem deal could see the end of Labour socialism that Margaret Thatcher long sought to achieve.

Labour have been thoroughly outmanouvered. First by the electorate and now by the willingness of Cameron to go beyond party limitations to embrace a more liberal vision of Britain.

Whatever emerges from the Cameron–Clegg discussions (and even a weakened Clegg has indicated statesmanship too) Brown and his cohorts have become Yesterday's Men, sounding more desperate, shabby and divorced from the reality of British politics by the hour.

Cameron, on the other hand, has revealed his intelligence by recognising the electorate are not yet ready to go solid blue.

But he is now the man of the moment. And with good grace, sound judgement and not a little creativity, he could be the statesman to form a government that finally addresses both the electorate's and the nation's needs.

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