Talking Politics: Dutch look at coalition government

Partnership: Janet Battye and with Calderdale Labour leader Tim Swift
Partnership: Janet Battye and with Calderdale Labour leader Tim Swift

I spent an evening recently with some visitors from Holland who were over here to look at local government.

The group was a mixture of Council Officers and Councillors from one of the regions of Holland. As with my holiday in Greece, I always get a sense of the bigger Europe (rather than the small island) when talking with people on mainland Europe.

The message that I heard from the Dutch visitors was that there are many advantages in coalition government, whether at national or local level, and that we need to work together. When I talk with local people on the doorstep (and it’s another by-election this week), many people tell me that they don’t have fixed party allegiances but, primarily, just want us to do our best for them.

Whilst we think about the strong leadership of Thatcher and Blair, we also need to reflect on the problems of adversarial politics, the role of politicians (to represent local people) and the desire of most people just to be able to get on with their lives.

Is that what coalition government is actually about?