As I settled down to work yesterday with PMQs in my ear, I caught the split screen fronting the BBC news channel website: half the screen was dedicated to the House of Commons and the other half to the predominantly peaceful G20 protests. As I listened to David Cameron rolling out the one-liners and generally slagging off Gordon Brown as much as possible without making a meaningful point, it occurred to me that the politicians could learn a lot from the protesters.
Every time I think about it I’m astounded at the way this crisis has provoked not only anger, but unity. Not just in fury against the financial sector, but through the G20 protests and actually, through the G20 summit itself. Some of the most ideologically disparate world leaders have come together in London in an effort to find a way out of the economic mire, but it has also become a platform for discussion of some of the most divisive issues. Today America and Russia held talks about reducing their nuclear arsenals by a third and President Obama accepted an invitation to China. These are encouraging steps towards breaching some serious divides. Admittedly the election of Barack himself has been instrumental in these developments but one can’t help marvelling at the confluence of events that have facilitated his efforts.
Yesterday, campaigners from more than 80 organisations marched under one banner. China invited America to visit. Yet our politicians remain as entrenched in their party lines as ever. They can’t seem to see past the latest polls and their own re-election.
The world has been knocked for six by this crisis and there seems to be a growing concensus that the only way to survive it will be by helping each other to rebuild and to move forward in unison. Why then are our politicians still fettered by this uncompromising ‘party loyalty’? The world has changed irrevocably over the last year. Surely, if there is ever a time to move from dogma to pragmatism, to come together for intelligent discussion rather than zingers and to lay the foundations of progress in mutual respect, it is now.