The estimable Scotland on Sunday newspaper will forgive me (I hope – I’ve subscribed to them ever since they started years ago) if I repeat some interesting advice they have in today’s edition from Scotland’s former First Minister Jack McConnell.
For readers who may not follow politics in a devolved Scotland, he headed up a coalition of Labour and Liberal Democrats at Holyrood from 2001 to 2007. He offers 10 tips for successful coalition.
- Leaders must have personal trust
- Agree a clear policy programme and priorities and stick to it
- As in any successful relationship, compromise is necessary
- Every partnership has disagreements so it is important that there is a clear dispute resolution mechanism in place, one that is understood and accepted by both sides
- Governments need to be flexible, to respond to new opportunities as well as unexpected events
- Use the agreed programme as a guide, not a straitjacket
- Sometimes coalition partners need to go their separate ways
- People leave a political party in a coalition for all sorts of reasons and a partnership must be robust enough to cope with that
- All for one and one for all. A coalition government must have collective responsibility and ministers across the political divide must accept this discipline
- Finally, never forget the electorate.
There’s more on each of his points in the Scotland on Sunday article.
And in case anyone is minded to respond “But that was Labour and the Lib Dems, they’re both progressive” [whatever that means] Britain’s largest council, Birmingham City, has had a Conservative-Liberal Democrat administration for a number of years now.