David Cameron, Nick Clegg and I

Chris’ recent blog post struck a chord with me, as a reminder that ‘Spring has sprung’ and that it is the season we associate with fresh air, new beginnings, and time for change. So whilst the Scottish weather may not be quite in agreement on this yet, there is certainly a fitting sense of rebirth within British politics right now.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg will likely face as much criticism as support over the “difficult times” and difficult decisions ahead. They have united in a spring clean not just of the electoral system, but also of the status quo and party relationships within all levels of government.

Who would have thought – Tories & Lib Dems?! During the past few weeks I’ve watched with a mixture of healthy skepticism and real curiosity. I have total respect for both these leaders for taking on a tough challenge, and I didn’t envy them their decisions! I have been excited to see what emerges, and to try and understand what it means.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg have had to consider a range of what seemed like ‘less than ideal’ options, and even in the face of that they have been able to seek and find true opportunity. Personally and politically, they’ve had to perform an honest evaluation of what wasn’t working – especially if it had done in the past.

So in the spirit of this sea change, we are offered the opportunity to look critically at our own beliefs and attitudes. What isn’t working? What relationship do we need to re-evaluate? Perhaps our relationship with ourselves, with money, with our partners/friends/family, with responsibility, with politics, with …?

As I noted down some ideas for this blog post earlier today, I realised this is exactly what I’ve done in relation to politics over the last few months. I was previously of the opinion that the three things you never discuss with anyone (especially family & close friends!) were religion, politics and sex. I ‘didn’t do’ politics; actively avoiding it until someone pointed out that this was in fact a political stance! I was happy that voting in the UK was optional (whereas it’s compulsory in Australia, and you get fined for not doing it).

And yet, I voted in this election. In the last few weeks I’ve spoken to family, friends, colleagues and college buddies about politics. I’ve facebooked about it! I read up on the parties and their main points of policy. Somewhere along the line I decided that if I was to vote I needed to make an informed choice. I watched as the first election results came in live, I’ve checked the BBC’s election website for updates and news on what was happening, and I’ve watched announcements by Gordon Brown and David Cameron on the day of change. And I enjoyed it! Dare I say, I even got a little misty-eyed when I watched the announcement of a “new politics” and the outline of the coalition with David Cameron and Nick Clegg standing side by side.

This was a fundamental shift in my attitudes and actions. So what happened?

  1. I realised that I needed to re-evaluate my beliefs and attitudes towards politics.
  2. I examined the fact that I do care about the place where I choose to make my home; that I believe in our right to have a voice and I didn’t want to take this for granted.
  3. I was open to the possibility that politics could be interesting.
  4. I realised that to be authentic, my old belief wasn’t serving me.
  5. I embraced a curiosity about this change and what it could mean for me and the broader context.
  6. And I chose to take action in the spirit of this change, despite being anxious or not always understanding or feeling frustrated as I tried to learn about the UK political system.

Change can be scary. Writing my first public blog post mentioning politics is scary! And whilst it may not all be smooth-sailing from hereon in, and my transition towards civic participation might feel challenging, I remain curious about the future and happy that I chose to re-evaluate my position.

I’m also curious about the future for this unique coalition, this “new politics”, the economic challenges ahead; and I’m excited about the possibilities – encouraged that 65% of the population (up from 50%) chose to take action and vote, encouraged that two opposing party leaders can talk as adults, UK citizens and humans!

Perhaps there is inspiration to be drawn from the most unlikely of situations; perhaps like David Cameron, Nick Clegg and I, you too may have difficult decisions to ponder.

What in your life could do with a sea change?