Kill or Cooperate?
There are so many aspects of the behaviour of the British Prime Minister, the British Government, Britain’s Parliament and relations with the United States President that it is difficult to know where to begin. Certainly it is necessary to be tough to be effective. Tough. Not rude, not stupid, not John Wayne. It is also necessary to be reasonable, persuasive and able to communicate well, in a way that doesn’t require war or verbal abuse to make a point.
Those in positions of power must consider the impact of their behaviour on those who are still learning life – children, the educationally deprived and indeed all of us who wish to see a future that is more than a forest fire. In fact, all of us. To shout is to admit defeat because of a weak case. To rant to the point of threatening a heart attack may demonstrate strong feelings. It does not demonstrate strong grasp. The thunder of war is no adviser of impending peace.
None of us behaves perfectly all the time. Strong emotions, usually referred to approvingly as passion, can be a forceful driver of one’s own behavior. Unleashed, they are poor aids to common sense. And it is common sense that the world needs now if the planet is to survive. The common sense of animal survival is to kill. The common sense of human survival is to cooperate. At present we see some transactional cooperation between parties interested in their mutual support to destroy what humans have taken millenia to build.
This is the common sense of lemmings. The collective, I am told, is ‘a suicide of lemmings’.
The British voters are divided almost equally between those who would stay in the European Union and those who would leave it. A widely-admitted faulty referendum produced this result. Politicians of all beliefs have taken this as an opportunity to join what they think will be the winning team and then press for success for their side regardless of whether it makes sense or not. Let battle commence. Whatever for? Whichever side wins loses the other side and creates an increasingly divisive society. Even in the short term that is stupid. In the long term it is indictable.
A previous Prime Minister said on her entry to Downing Street ‘Where there is discord, may we bring harmony’. It was the wrong place to say it and it didn’t sound true at the time. It would sound true today. Because the job of a Prime Minister – or anyone in charge of so many people’s lives – is to ensure cooperation, not strife. So what should Prime Minister Johnson do? He should tell British Voters that he will immediately seek an extension of Britain’s departure from the European Union.  He should set up a small group of Members of Parliament (not just the Cabinet), representative of the different points of view in the House of Commons. The remit of this Cooperation Committee: to conclude how best to proceed in order to achieve maximum cooperation and satisfaction of the differing views. Put simply: How to compromise.Their rules of engagement: anyone behaving in an aggressive or socially unacceptable way to be barred from the group. Chair’s decision final.  The Group should have one month to conclude and recommend to the House.
You cannot force cooperation but you can make a lack of it unacceptable. The Prime Minister should set the tone for the Cooperation Committee.
Pie in the sky? You may say so. In practice it is exactly what will happen in the end. At present it looks as though that end may drag out indefinitely, fomenting hatred, making Britain vulnerable to enemy attacks because its back is turned. The precise format may be different. We may have one, two or three General Elections to decide the future of the country. Lemmings would vote their own destruction if they could, I expect.
Every voter should demand a process along the simple lines I suggest. Every leader should behave with politeness and restraint.
If they did we might even listen to them again.
We sure ain’t listening now.