The purpose of government is supposed to be to advance the welfare of the nation, but instead our process seems increasingly dominated by petty party politics, the battle of simply getting into office.  Even leaving aside their interminable debates about Brexit, the UK has one party in turmoil for saying unpleasant things about Muslims, and another for being equally unsympathetic to Jews.  And yet all that either wants to talk about is the tit-for-tat politics of whataboutism where each seeks to deflect attention from scrutiny of their own actions in favour of pointing a finger at the other.  

Thus, we have a government who, to recycle a familiar phrase, give the impression of being "in office but not in power" whilst the opposition try make a virtue of being "present but not involved".   And in the meantime voter apathy, which had been reduced by the referenda about devolution and Brexit, is increasingly being replaced by voter despair. And politicians remain rooted at the bottom of the trust index despite their avowed commitment to public service.

Contrast this with what happened in the Australian Parliament on Wednesday 15 August. Two politicians from opposing parties - in more senses than one - came together in a powerful reminder of their common humanity and our politicians' duty to build a better future.

Neither Liberal cabinet minister Josh Frydenberg, a son of Jewish refugees, nor Labor front-bencher, Ed Husic, the Muslim son of Bosnian immigrants, seems prepared to be defined by their faith, or their political affiliation. Instead, as any negotiation theorist will recommend, they focussed on what was important, their nation's underlying needs and interests, rather than on the positional stances of adversarial politics.  (The attached article Sydney Morning Herald tells the story, but if you can, do watch the embedded video to see what actually happened).

In politics, just as in my world of commercial disputes, mediation and negotiation, trying too hard to win is rarely the pathway to success.

Graham Massie is a member of CEDR Chambers, a panel of highly experienced mediators with proven excellence in providing mediation, training and consultancy services to clients. 

To book Graham as a mediator, contact the CEDR Commercial Team at or call 020 7536 6060.