Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Our leaders should take notes from Lincoln

One movie hotly tipped to garner a few Oscars next week is Steven Spielberg's Lincoln. It is a salutary reminder of what true political leadership looks like in a divided country. It also sets in sharp relief what passes for leadership from our Folks on the Hill.

At the start of another year that promises so much, the picture of our country being portrayed around the world is more mixed than ever. The Union flag protests and sporadic violence suggest a society that is still deeply divided.

At the same time, the recent BBC Spotlight poll findings suggest a society that is, to an unprecedented extent, of a settled opinion about the constitutional position of the state.

The irony is that, at a time when our constitutional future has rarely seemed more secure, some of our people feel that their identity and their stake in our evolving society is being, at best, ignored and, at worst, eroded.

The response of our elected politicians to the challenge of this perceived cultural deficit is to play the same old zero sum game.

If a shared future and consensual politics are to be the legacy that mine and older generations leave to the post-ceasefire generation, then we must demand true political leadership from those who serve us – starting with an end to win/loss politics.

DEAN RUSSELL

Deputy chairman (political), NI Conservatives

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