Dealing with Issues that Arise

As noted at the start of this book, a key objective of good governance is that it should be inclusive (2.5).  It should allow everyone to flourish and avoid harming them as far as possible. The political response to any issue has the potential to harm people, or to alienate them, so a disciplined approach is desirable.

Centrism offers a safe approach.  It could, perhaps should, be regarded as a political philosophy in its own right.  It can be defined as the politics of accommodating people of different views and cultures, avoiding extremes, to maximise the number of people to whom governance is acceptable.  It is a form of pragmatism which exploits the overlap that exists between moderate political viewpoints: Lockean individualism (, Burkean stewardship (, social democracy ( and pragmatic progressivism (  Most people occupy the centre ground of politics and moderate decisions can easily be defended.

For difficult decisions, politicians need to be able to persuade themselves and the public that they are doing the right thing.  Each political ideology and implementation approach has some validity – so it is worth approaching the treatment of a complex issue from each perspective:

  • An individualist (6.2.2) might ask whether government intervention could be avoided by encouraging people to buy their own services, although it would also be necessary to enquire whether regulation might be needed.
  • A collectivist (6.2.3) might want to examine the impact of a decision upon people’s rights, whether it would be seen as fair, and whether it would broadly benefit society as a whole.
  • A conservative (6.2.4) might ask if any governance change were necessary, or whether people could just be persuaded to behave differently within the current system. If change could not be avoided, one might then ask how its disruptive impact might be minimised.
  • A progressive (6.2.5) might ask whether the government could usefully intervene, perhaps by improving or replacing current systems. Any government intervention should be properly costed, to see what effect the spending would have on other government programmes and on the overall economy.  A risk analysis would be appropriate if making the case for radical change.

People may follow some of these thought processes informally, but it may be worth asking all four questions formally in a transparent process.  Publishing the analysis would help to convince doubters that a decision had been carefully and fairly reached: evidence of an inclusive negotiation (2.4).


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This is a current page, updated since publication of Patterns of Power Edition 3a.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/6263a.htm