Partnership working and a coalition government
We’re suddenly faced with the prospect of a coalition government. That seems a rather scary and unbritish thing. It doesn’t exactly smack of strong government (remember back to Margaret Thatcher ticking off one of her wet colleagues, Francis Pym, for venturing to suggest that a rather smaller conservative majority might make for better government and stronger Parliament).
But need we be so scared?
Look at the corporate world. It is full of examples of alliances and partnerships. Few companies exist completely as their own island. They depend on suppliers, retailers and the myriad of others who make up their value chain. They may be in consortia, for example in large civil engineering or building projects, or they may be in formal alliances as in the airline industry. All these arrangements require strong agreement about that the deal is and what the expectations are of different partners. And they require what we consultants call ‘partnership behaviour’.
Look also at the political world – close to home in Scotland, and further away in New Zealand. In both countries coalition government has forced clearer agreement about policies and given their parliaments a stronger hand.
Just now our politicians could do worse than a quick refresher read of the Institute for Government/Constitution Unit publication on Making Minority Government Work. There Professor Robert Hazell and colleagues set out a really clear headed analysis of the difference between coalition government and minority government and a very practical set of steps for all the interested parties (not excluding the monarchy) to play.