As we watch the results of the local elections trickle in through the night many a pundit and political communicator briefs us on the battle between labour and conservatives. Baffled by how the Conservatives did not do so well in the national elections last year after massive leads in the polls. Baffled by how the apparently triumphant march of labour did not translate into a sweep at the local elections last night.
The obsession is with UKIP, and where their voters who pursued the ‘protest vote’ are finding their new home.
But this bafflement misses the point. And the obsession with UKIP asks the wrong questions.
UKIP garnered votes from those in the electorate who were not satisfied with the efficacy of our governance structure. But now that change has been ushered onto the table for discussion, are they focused on left or right? No, it does not look like it. The sum equation of dialogue amongst the citizens of this country leaves us in electoral outcomes where there is no appetite amongst us to reward one party over the other. So, what do voters want? Voters want national unity. Wisdom of the crowds.
National unity is something leaders in all spheres and all sectors can focus on. A national conversation about our future – ambitious and optimistic. National unity means standing together in our conversations with other nations, being respectful towards them whilst having the confidence to pursue a winning future for all the citizens of our country.
The level of debate currently taking place is painful to witness. Not because there are no answers to the important questions being asked of Britons today. But because of how this discussion is being pursued.
We could be pursuing a participatory approach to examining these questions and finding the means and medium through which that conversation can take place. After all, we live in the crowdfunding and crowdsourcing generation. These are not unimaginable concepts. In fact, we have been working on them. Yet, nobody has found and nobody is looking for a means through which to activate a participatory, collaborative, inclusive discussions about our future.
Instead, people use the poisonous environments augmented by social media platforms and fear-driven polarisation in the print-media, as meccas for battle with ourselves. A societal self-destruction with inevitable implications of a poorer experience of the future.
If we know that the social platforms today divide and destroy us, why do we continue to use them? We need another approach to community discussion. We need a new version of the village square. A modern day village square that brings ideas into a constructive proximity with each other, nurturing an understanding of the issues, identifying the goals we are trying to achieve as a community and the context and instruments for developing strategies and deliverables that meet those ends.
In this environment, leaders from all sectors and citizens from across the board can come together as equal, in the tradition of open and solution oriented discussion. And we can be fearless. Fearless of one another – because we are all in this together. Fearless, because we know wellbeing for all makes for a stronger and more successful national community. Fearless of one another because we know that the obstacle is the way. Let’s pursue a vibrant ideational space where the needs of all parts of society are recognised, where we can focus on our common goals instead of ideology, and develop solutions that meet the needs of all our communities. We can do this, and when we do we will all be more likely to experience the questions we are asking today as gateways to a brighter future for us all.