Friday, 14 May 2010

Mindful Politics

For those of us used to a politics characterised by open warfare between entrenched tribes, the sight this week of two formerly opposing British party leaders agreeing to work together in a new coalition was surreal. Just a week previously they had been trying to discredit each other, suddenly they were laughing at each other's jokes.

In chapter one of the Mindful Manifesto, we envisage "a mindful parliamentary system where, instead of shouting at each other over the dispatch box, politicians worked together to find the most workable approaches to government." It's a bit premature to hope that this might be the kind of mindful politics we are espousing, with collaboration, careful reflection, common interest and kindness replacing crude competition and back-stabbing - the fact that the Clegg-Cameron 'love-in' was so gobsmacking is a sign itself of how far we have to go. But while it may have been prompted by political necessity, any increased co-operation seems a step in the mindful direction. And if the smiles, warmth and cross-party cameraderie do - as seems likely - sink under the pressure of cuts, crises and simmering division, at least we will have seen, for a few short hours, how a different kind of politics might look.

Several people with links to the last British goverment - the Labour peer Lord Layard and former Downing Street policy advisor Matthew Taylor among them, have recently enthused about the benefits of mindfulness training. Let's hope some key figures advising Messrs Clegg and Cameron are in the same place. Ten minutes of meditation before Cabinet sessions? It might be one way to stop the rot from setting in...

1 comment:

  1. Excellent points. The extremes seem to have the loudest voices but not necessarily the best answers. Here in the U.S. there is a growing movement for more moderation and cooperation. They are looking for a voice and your site is important for this. My U.S. site is