For several years now, many people across the UK have been calling for a ‘new politics’ and ‘new economics’. There is a growing weariness with the current systems, behaviours and ideologies which are incapable to give us the future we need – a future in which we take climate change, the sustainability of the planet and social justice really seriously.
So, what hope do TIGgers offer us? I had the pleasure of meeting Heidi Allen MP a couple of weeks ago, when she came to Morecambe with Frank Field MP to better understand the issues of poverty and in particular the effects of government policy on the lives of human beings. I watched her sit and really listen to my friend, Daniel Burba, with tears streaming down her face, as he told his gut-wrenching story of lived-experience of poverty and how he deserved to be treated as a person with a name and not a mere number or statistic. I watched her quit the Conservative party, citing the failure of the government to make any difference to the issues of poverty, but rather to have worsened them. I admire politicians who are willing to really listen to what is going in commmunities, examine whether or not policies are actually working or in fact deeply failing people and be willing to make changes accordingly. People with lived experience of poverty are fed up to the back teeth of being told that policies are working, when they live on the receiving end of the harsh realities involved.
And so, now we have the formation of this new “Independent Group” – an interesting mixture of MPs who have, for a variety of reasons formed together on the ‘centre ground’ of British politics. But is this the new politics? Well….if anything helps break up the dominant 2-party, first past the post system with less braying across the isles, then maybe we can get somewhere towards it. If it models a new way of building relationships, then all the better!
But do TIGgers really signify a genuine shift towards a new politics for the people and the planet, a politics based on love and kindness, and politics of collaboration and genuine listening and care, a politics that is together with, not to or for or over? I’m not sure it can be – for such a politics can not be ‘independent’ but must be ‘interdependent’. Such a politics cannot rely on such a broken economic model as neoliberalism but be willing to make a shift into the doughnut, ensuring business can thrive in a way that does not mean destruction of the planet or a widening of inequalities! Nor can it be agnostic over the issues of climate change. It needs to mean the breakdown of powerful lobby groups and a more open, honest and accountable way of operating.
No, a new politics and economics will enable us to truly face up to our colonial past and the ‘hostile environment’ we have created and instead help bring communities together to build relationships and embrace interculturalism on a foundation of self-giving, others-empowering love and kindness. It will put the environment and social justice front and centre. It will ensure we focus on age old inequalities, and ensure that no child goes hungry and every life matters. It will build the health of people and the planet into every policy decision and co-create a more flexible education system that is a work of art. It will be more honest about the resources we have available and be collaborative with communities about how we use them best. It will be humble in its approach to International relationships and development, looking to build positive peace.
I am a tigger, but not a TIGger. ‘TIG’ does not yet signify the new politics we are looking for, but at least it is calling for it – and that is very welcome.