The Lost Cardinals of Democracy’s Compass

28 June 2023

Compass For Life

Something sinister has happened in political leadership. Truthfulness, the bedrock upon which a fair, kind, and democratic society has been built, is under serious threat. Replaced by misinformation, ‘alternative truths’ and deception and backed up by a lack of accountability, poor planning and little sense of direction and purpose. 

Over the past few years, we have seen an era where truth has been bent, twisted, and sometimes outright discarded by numerous political parties not only in our own country but on a global scale. The unfortunate consequence of this behaviour is that it erodes the pillars of democracy. These last few days have seen just how toxic the current state of the UK’s political landscape has become. We’ve had an ex Prime Minister continue to lie, while pointing fingers at others for the mistakes he’s made. His supporters have followed suit and then remarkably, in Boris Johnson’s ‘hour of need’, the majority didn’t even bother to turn up to a debate or vote on the matter.

The problem is, the years of ‘alternative truths’ have created a culture where leadership is defined by deception rather than honesty. It encourages leaders to shirk accountability, as they can simply construct a narrative that suits their purposes rather than facing the reality of their decisions and actions.

This behaviour fosters a negative perception of vulnerability. Instead of acknowledging their shortcomings and mistakes, leaders seek to hide or distort them. This sets a dangerous precedent, as it suggests that a leader’s worth is determined by their ability to appear infallible rather than their capacity to learn, adapt, and grow from their experiences.

These leadership qualities – honesty, accountability, and a willingness to recognise and address vulnerability – are the pillars of democracy. They ensure that leaders are beholden to the people they represent and must act in their best interests. When these qualities are eroded, so too is the democratic compass, leaving society adrift and at risk of floating towards unthinkable forms of government.

So, what can be done to restore the democratic compass? The solution lies in electing leaders who embody the values of honesty, accountability, and vulnerability. Drawing from the principles of the Compass For Life, we can set a new course for democracy and start to rebuild its foundations. 

Firstly, we need to set a renewed Super North Star. It’s clear that our current UK government is at war with itself. Rather than uniting behind a single vision, its chock full of different leaders all out for their own personal Super North Star and to hell with the rest. The first crucial step for whichever new government steps into Whitehall will be to set the new vision for the country, with the people in mind. Next, the Warrior cardinal. Here lies action and accountability. Future political leaders must demonstrate the courage to take bold, ethical actions and the humility to accept responsibility for their outcomes.

The cardinal in the east focuses on Ethos. It’s been almost impossible to identify what the values are of our recent politicians, other than a clear desire for personal gain and wealth. It’s critical that each political leader displays an ethos that is grounded in truth and integrity and sticks by those principals.

Lastly, the Southern Cardinal, the Strategist, requires leaders to plan and understand their landscape. This means acknowledging the realities of our world, not distorting them for personal or political gain. It demands a willingness to be vulnerable, to admit when one is wrong, and to devise strategies based on truth, not convenient fictions.

In essence, the next generation of political leaders must embody the principles of the compass to rebuild the pillars of democracy. 

By adhering to these principles, they can steer society back on course, realign the democratic compass, and ensure that our governments serve as beacons of truth, transparency, and accountability. 

After all, democracy is only as strong as the principles upon which it stands, and without those principles it will crumble.

Clenched fist raised in the air