6.3.3.1 Responsiveness

Politicians’ engagement with the public requires them to listen carefully, take advice, take decisions and then explain those decisions clearly and persuasively.  A responsive politician is one who does this well, and who convinces people that their views have been taken into account.  The following examples are relevant:

“It’s frankly insulting … to our care workers, our nurses, our teachers … there’s so many people that don’t earn over £30,000. I thought I’d met posh people before I came here, but actually I’d just met people who eat olives … I’ve met lots of people who earn way more than £30,000 who have absolutely no discernible skills … not even one.”

Video recordings of both speeches were widely shared on social media.  Whereas Jess Phillips’s Birmingham constituents might reasonably feel that their MP was supportive, no-one in France who was unemployed would feel that Macron was trying to help them.  A Social Europe article, Macron the populist, commented:

“The popularity of the French president, Emmanuel Macron, has slumped—but then inside Macron the populist is Macron the elitist.”

People should be able to feel that politicians are trying to serve them well.  It should also be noted, though, that leadership is part of a politician’s role – so they cannot be solely reactive to people’s wishes.  They must be competent in their decision-making, as discussed next (6.3.3.2).

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This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3a book, © PatternsofPower.org, 2020.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/6331.htm