We were sitting having a cup of LibDem coffee in Shaftesbury at the weekend and the question was asked, ‘Who can you trust these days?’.
We took soundings around the room and got some thought-provoking responses.
A number had been to the Any Questions panel, recently broadcast live from Marnhull. It was felt strongly that the more credible panel members were the two non-politicians, not least because there seemed to be less “side”, less spin in their answers. Someone commented that Prime Minister’s Questions has taken the art of swerve and side-step to new levels of pointlessness.
We began to consider leaders of organisations who, in Sir Humphrey’s immortal words, appear to have had their trousers nailed to the mast such that they cannot climb down – however unreasonable their adopted position. The DUP, the Public and Commercial Services Union, the various rail trade unions and companies … we found ourselves discussing other organisations also progressively losing their reputations and public trust: the water companies, energy companies, even the supermarkets under the twin clouds of profiteering and supply-chain brutality. In one of his answers on Any Questions, the CEO of Oxfam said that his organisation monitors the performance of the biggest 100 food and energy companies – whose profits have increased by £80 billion in the last period.
It is by action, not words, not through spin but by substance, that we should make our judgements on these organisations.
Our group made special mention of the lack of credibility of the more pro-Brexit politicians and their supporters.
More truth, less ideology
We turned to discussing those we can trust. We felt we can and do trust each other – there is nothing as powerful as a good team. We talked about the people in our various communities who can and do make a difference, who act for all in their locality, who are selfless rather than self-seeking. There were so many examples.
So, the question begs; how can society harness the ethos and capabilities of such people? How can we rid ourselves of professional politicians who look to govern for the minority – the 30 per cent who always vote for them? We need a whole lot more truth and much, much less ideology and its consequences. The more we can bring the people in our communities who we do trust into government – local and national – the more inclusive will be the decision-making.
The problem, of course, lies in persuading ourselves and our friends and acquaintances to have the nerve and the resilience to step up and stand for election.
There are Dorset Council elections next year: same old, same old or something different? Come on, everyone. Think about standing!
Mike Chapman, North Dorset LibDems