CONSTITUENTS often complain to me about “in–fighting”, “childish bickering” and “self-interest” of which they perceive our politics is largely composed.

Inevitably there is some of that, but much less than has historically been the case.

Overwhelmingly however, political differences arise from principled and practical differences between politicians, who –whilst they may share the same objective, namely our national welfare, nevertheless disagree profoundly about how it is to be achieved.

Constituents demand that ‘heads be banged together’ so that parties work cooperatively in the national interest, but this is virtually impossible when there is little common ground about what course constitutes the national interest.

It is of little use demanding unity among politicians when their disunity is mirrored among the voters that elected them.

That demand however, does at least acknowledge that there could be a sensible way forward with a positive outcome. Which is at odds with the short dark days in which we traditionally wallow in gloom and doom.

We reinforce this attitude by agreeing with one another about just how dreadful things are.

Only the other day, whilst discussing a controversial planning application, a constituent assured me that there would be no need for the proposed houses as he was confident that our population is soon to be decimated by a pandemic!

This reminded me of my favourite book (to which I have previously drawn attention in this column) The Coffee Table Book of Doom. Here is a flavour from the advertising blurb:

“…with the apocalypse at hand, don’t fret about dying uninformed. The Coffee Table Book of Doom is a “… superbly illustrated and erudite compendium of all the 27 doom-laden horsemen we need to worry about – personal doom, gender erosion, asteroid impact, pandemics, super storms, sexual ruin – and much more besides”.

There is, of course, still plenty to worry about, and no shortage on commentators to remind us.

Nevertheless, I believe there is an attitude problem at the centre of our public life which makes us particularly prone to fear and self-doubt. One example will suffice: Accepting that the people had made their decision in the 2016 referendum, if our political leaders had seized on it as an opportunity to be grasped, rather than a problem to be managed, we might make a better fist of it by now.

Positive thinking can’t wish problems and difficulties away, but it certainly helps when confronting them. Not a bad thing to remember as a new year resolution.