What kind of Society?

Society is fluid, it reflects those who make it up and the other impersonal factors which create it – the market, legislation, financial constraints. It evolves, though some would say it devolves. People’s behaviour changes and the things which people enjoy – pubs close and coffee shops open (everywhere!), churches empty and supermarkets fill, hunting and smoking are made illegal, Sunday opening and gay marriage (we hope) become legal and accepted. Different groups within society may almost feel themselves at war with each other ‘aggressive secularists’ vs. ‘close-minded conservatives’, ‘militant atheists’ vs. ‘pushy fundamentalists’.

What kind of society would we like? Ever been asked this question, what about in a group with people of a range of different views? How could we ever agree? Perhaps we elect politicians to do this for us – it immediately sounds wrong – but we are responsible for it. Politicians have some great ideas, or think they do. Personally, I think Liberal is the way, reduction of inequalities (maybe creates less work for superheroes through a happier society, who knows, it’s not likely to happen, that’s why we have superheroes) and so on. But politics is more about privilege it seems, just look at the expenses scandal. They should have all been thrown out. But no, it would have caused chaos, and it wasn’t as illegal as regular crime or expenses fiddling in other industries. Bullshit! Answerable to no one? It looks that way. Tony Blair had his war despite 1 million people marching through the streets of London and even he knows that he was wrong about the reasons for war, even if he would still do the same thing if he had a second chance.

But Government doesn’t represent all the people (and perhaps they are ‘playing with bad ideas’), election turnout has declined, only 65% of people voted in 2010 and only 59% of votes cast were for the coalition parties. So we have a Government that was voted in by 38% of the electorate. Oddly, perhaps this is a good thing, we don’t have one party doing its own thing for 4 years because it has to discuss with its coalition partner. Presumably this is more constructive than the ‘discussions’ with the Opposition. What good does posturing and performing do? Being collegiate and consensual is the way to go, my company is a coalition of difference.

One gap in our society is the voices of those who are not heard, just think of the boy who calls Superman at a time of crisis. Of course he could hear him, despite being far away. Government needs to listen to those who have not voted for them and not voted at all, they are not there for their followers, those who think like them. The whole thing needs to be done differently. The Opposition leader should be brought into the Cabinet. There should be a Minister for Conscience and Humanity. Parliament as a whole should go on a team-building course together and do some debate training. Would it be too frightening to govern better, as if it was important? And politicians need to get in touch, not just an out of office Michael Portillo, and experience the lives of the unemployed, those with disabilities. Of course they should go on a full course of Diversity training, as should those running the Church of England. Most of all, they should encourage a national conversation and become a listening government and show the rest of us how it’s done. Or else!

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