Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 25th December 2019

Nature is highly competitive. Species and civilisations have been shaped by the competition for limited resources. While we now live in a world far less harsh than that of our ancestors, where the rule of law, welfare state, and various social contracts ensure our lives aren’t nasty, brutish and short, competition remains.

While we perhaps think of it most in the context of sport, competition in some way plays a role in all of our interactions with others, this is no less true of politics.

We’ve all seen the way in which our society has become increasingly divided over recent years and while it has become cliché to claim that these divisions began with Brexit, it definitely helped bring the splits to the surface and subsequently it’s certainly politics where behaviour has sunk the lowest.

In some ways this should be expected. The level of competition in politics is far greater than in almost any other area of social activity, we operate in a winner-takes-all system where the stakes are incredibly high. Yet, despite that, should we not expect more from those who lead and seek to lead our society? Should those of us in politics not expect more from ourselves?

It is a fortnight since the General Election and while elections are a divisive time, again and again on the campaign trail came questions of how we heal the rifts which have spit our country. I don’t claim to have a complete answer, but it seems to me any solution must involve those of us in politics acting to build unity, not division.

Consequently, I have an apology to make. A week ago at Full Council I accused the Conservatives of being bad people. While I made the remark in the heat of a debate filled with accusations, it was wrong. Bad policies don’t make bad people and no party has a monopoly on morality.

People hold different political opinions and we are going to disagree, but that doesn’t mean we have to be disagreeable. Let us all use our own behaviour to help our country heal. Merry Christmas.

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