The rules of politics in the age of coalitions are about listening, negotiating, collaborating and coming up with unexpected solutions.But most of all the new rules are about shifting alliances.
Everything is always to play for.
And in our day and age, "everything to play for" is the best and most beautiful state to be in.
Everything is fluid, uncertain, changeable, unexpected, chaotic and complex. Any state we are in from now on is always just another state waiting to be born.
From this morning onwards all sorts of wonderfulness from science and economics and even maths have come into play. Ideas about self organising systems, game theory, evolutionary biology, autopoiesis, complexity science and systems thinking, all of which I can't even pretend to properly understand, are suddenly our guiding principles.
And one of the things these ideas reveal is that small actions can have big effects, which is great if we don't want to wait around for the over-networked posh idiots to sort the world out for us. Things that we can all do in structures outside of party politics matter. In complex non-linear systems the small things have unexpected consequences, it's a mathematical fact!
There are lots of big challenges of course, but that is great because you can't have a decent story or a decent game without risk of failure.
And best of all is that this new rule set is perfect for, and demands, creativity. Political systems become a subject for creativity.
I read a smshing definition of creativity in neuroscience the other day: "creativity as the ability to restructure one’s understanding of a situation in a nonobvious way. "
And if nothing else, what was sadly sadly missing over the last 13 years was anyone ever doing anything "non obvious". They made an obsession of finding out the obvious and doing it. No one ever, ever, took a step back and looked at the system as a whole and said "ok what is really going on and how can we really change it?"
For all the battered nobility of his last few days, all Brown ever wanted to do was sit in the centre and command the world to change based on the force of his will and his absolute understanding, and his chosen mechanism for doing so was to throw tax revenues at it skimmed from the City.
But the world just doens't obey that command any more, if it ever did.
So here is a policy to test out in breaking up the current coalition:
Local income tax.
It's a Lib Dem policy I think anyway. The Cameron wing of the Conservatives would have to pretend to be in favour given how much they have gone on about localism, but the devolutionary implications would be too much for the right. If it passes then the control of revenues and the autonomy that goes with it will allow Labour to build up the independence of its English regional strongholds and push for greater freedom from London regardless of which coalition is in power there. And a hundred city states all experimenting with the rule sets of government is million times more creative.
God knows whether that would work or not in any way.
But that's not the point. The point is the process. Release early release often. Prototype. Beta test. Declare a republic in Sunderland and see what happens.
That is the world we are in now, and it is miles better than the old one, regardless of who it is that thinks they are in power.
A great essay about creativity and experimentation in political rule sets here.
A useful primer about systems thinking here.
A bonkers and almost mystical introduction to autopoiesis here.