Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Strangely strange, but oddly normal

"Oh I could wreck my brain
Trying to explain
Where it is I think that we are heading"

from "Strangely strange but oddly normal" by Doctor Strangely Strange

Another election, another set of shocks to add to the catalogue of twenty first century politics in Britain. Nearly a week on from polling day & as the dust begins to settle, the possible outcomes arising from the Conservatives latest gamble with the electorate are beginning to emerge. What exactly the presumed Tory/DUP pact will mean for the economy, devolution, security & above all the Brexit negotiation strategy (there is one, right?) is open for debate - & the debates are coming thick & fast.

There has been no lack of prediction, forecasting & claims of prescience - &, as usual, most of it has turned out to be been inaccurate.  But what has been noticeable in its absence throughout the election campaign is an application of foresight or futures thinking - an exploration of scenarios, hypothetical alternatives, wild card situations.  & let's face it, in the period following the 2015 election there have been quite a few wild cards.  Nevertheless, despite some honourable exceptions, few commentators seem willing or able to move beyond applying patterns from the past to the future - fighting the last election, if not the last war.  In the febrile, kaleidoscopic, inconstant politics of this age, it seems there are no fixed points: multiple futures can emerge.

Amongst this flux, the pragmatic politics & delivery of local government continue to stand out.  Throughout the years of austerity, councils have prided themselves on "getting on with the job", even if some have been perilously close to the financial wire on several occasions. If we really are seeing the dawn of the end of austerity, however dim it may be, then local government can  further reinforce its place with cross-party, open & collegiate leadership for local places.  As the early days of the new Metro Mayors have illustrated, visionary & inclusive urban government can transcend the chaos at national level.  Nothing new there, then.

So yes, these are strangely strange days.  But they're also oddly normal.
Here's to the next election.

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