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View from the street: finding unity in difference


Fergus Mcgowan


Client manager

This afternoon we will see how the Scottish National Party moves forward, with the announcement of its next leader and successor to Nicola Sturgeon as first minister of Scotland

Once the dust settles, and the rhetoric between people ceases – what happens next? Two distinct paths lie ahead of the victor. They can either continue division or a take a chance on unification, pulling together those who just moments before were viewed as bitter rivals.

It is difficult not to draw a comparison with another change of government – albeit short-lived – that also happened recently in these islands. Former prime minister, Liz Truss, failed to understand the importance of unity, filling her cabinet with those who had backed her unreservedly. This created a policy echo chamber that ended with her crashing the economy and resigning a short forty-four days after taking office. Of course, we won’t know what would have happened, if she, like many of her predecessors, brought views into her cabinet that didn’t align with her own.

Across the pond, Barack Obama famously said – in true Hollywood style – “There is not a liberal America or a conservative America, there is the United States of America”, signifying his commitment to unity ahead of the 2004 presidential election. But has this and similar statements by the current president helped resolve the deep tension that is still visible in American politics? I don’t think they have. The most powerful men in the world failed to address the most important part of unity, letting opposing factions realise that their differences are heard and understood.

There will always be differences of opinion, in politics as well as business. We are often told that the best way to resolve something is to take everyone with you, lean on their opinion and find common ground. Finding unity in difference.

It is well known that companies that provide difference of thought and experience within their boardrooms thrive. So why not use that same logic for the government’s cabinet – arguably the most important boardroom in a nation.

With us just hours away from the next chapter of Scottish politics, a chapter that could decide a nation’s statehood or lock in the safety of a political union, all will be looking to the next leader. We will see whether they step towards echo chambers and isolation, or find meaningful and productive unity with those that they fought so fiercely against.


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