Dear Editor, 

Politics and politicians have received a bad press in recent years. Yet political leadership is a key element in ensuring that our liberal democracy works for the benefit of all of us as both individuals and communities.

The success of our democracy depends on civic duty, and having an informed and engaged electorate. Effective leadership depends on bargaining in good faith which is crucial to a well-functioning democracy, and good manners in political debate.  

Talking to each other prevents voters losing faith in the democratic process and helps us to see political opponents as adversaries and not enemies that should be fought to the death.

The art of politics is having the sense of things possible. Extremists condemnation of all compromise is short-sighted because politics involves difficult choices from a menu of lousy options.

President Kennedy pointed out that there were two sides to every serious political problem, and that we must resist the ideologues on the left and the right that demand stark and simple solutions, that do not exist.

Somebody invariably has to make decisions and take responsibility for them. The best you can hope for is to do the best that you can do and be right more often than the other person.

This demands a degree of humility not often found. People who think that it is simple and the answers are obvious are dangerous. To succeed we need a strong streak of realism and need to see politics as a noble calling to create a more just and liberal society. 

Too often politicians want to be liked and to be liked is to get along. The way to get along is to go along.

This is not good for serving our residents. Compromise over issues may be acceptable as a legitimate way of resolving conflicts, but not so principles.

As citizens, we should demand better from our politics and politicians. If they are not up to scratch, the solution is to get rid of them, but beware of the snake oil salesmen amongst them. 

Luigi Gregori, Charlton Road, Andover.