It dawned on me some time ago that I know exactly what sort of political system I agree with. It doesn’t have a name, it doesn’t end in “ism” and as far as I know there is no perfect example. Other than a magazine. A very old magazine, with a very British sense of humour.
I love the Economist. Can’t get enough of it. It is inspiration, explanation and exploration all rolled into one weekly fix for me. But more than that it is pretty close to who I would love to have as government. Here are a few of the reasons:
1. They always remind us of their mistakes. “As this newspaper falsely wrote then…” features in almost every issue. Clearly and openly. They are not perfect but they try.
2. They take a clear position. No sitting on the fence. It is partly why they need to own up to mistakes. Even in thorny, complex issues, the ones other publications (and politicians!) end with a vague “this is a tricky one….” the Economist will come up with whatever is possible as a practical proposal to move ahead.
3. They have the know – how. Or they find it, borrow it, steal it. End result is that they will be able to come up with that practical proposal no matter what. And it is so practical it makes you want to get up and do the business yourself.
4. Stakeholders out in the open. “This newspaper is partly owned by” someone we are writing about now. Or “this topic is related to part of our business”. Sure, I have caught them out doing a publimercial without it being clear, but it is rare and so finely done that only a pro in the field of sneaky beaky marketing like me would even get a whiff of it.
5. They have a heart. It is way too easy a generalisation to call them “liberals” or “big money ideology”. Because (point No2 above) they always take a practical and public position in writing, they are very far away from any sort of unethical Scrooge position most of the time. Being harsh to people is not good for anyone in the long term and the Economist…
6. …is as long term as you get! They have been around longer than most political parties and because (point No1 above) they are always checking themselves for mistakes, they improve all the time. The adapt to the changes in the world, adding sections, removing others, asking for our help.
7. First and foremost you have to admire the persistence in seeking new communication paradigms. I am not talking about technology, I am talking content. From obituaries to special reports they boldly go where other publications (and politicians) don’t dare.
So take any measure you want for good government: accountability, transparency, responsiveness, effectiveness, strategic vision… the Economist scores tops on all of them as far as I am concerned. Now, how to get them to form a government…