AS WE approach the last few days of an exceptionally turbulent decade, we should recognise an urgent need to move on from the division that has been its prevailing mood, and aim instead for a period of debate and dialogue.

No one would claim that the issues surrounding subjects such as Brexit and independence, with vital constitutional implications and profound consequences for almost every practical area of peoples’ lives, will not continue to be contentious. Nor that, despite the clear mandates of the Conservatives across the UK and the SNP in Scotland, there are not concerns to be raised and criticisms made about governance both from Westminster and Holyrood.

If the recent election has not conclusively settled matters that are, by their very nature, innately divisive, it may nonetheless have brought us to a point where their implications can be approached in a more practical and conciliatory manner. The issues Brexit raises may yet take years to settle, but there is now no doubt that the UK is leaving the EU. The fact that we are doing so, and the strength of the Tories’ majority, also means that – despite the Nationalists’ rhetoric and comparable electoral mandate – a second referendum on independence will not be forthcoming at any point soon.

We should hope that both governments turn instead to dealing with the profound changes that Brexit will entail and, since they touch on so many areas of policy, that in doing so they will turn their attention to the things that actually affect most people’s everyday lives: health, education, policing, and welfare services.

The Conservatives have a particularly strong interest in adopting such an approach, if they are to have any prospect of retaining the support of those voters in northern areas of England who have never previously backed the party. But the SNP, with an eye on the Holyrood elections in 2021, might also profit from remembering that, as the government responsible for those bread and butter issues here, delivering competently on them is the best way of establishing their credentials and credibility.

Ten years ago, despite the dire economic position and the grim acceptance that there were tough times ahead, there were hopes that the Coalition government would present the opportunity for a new kind of politics, and a more consensual approach. Instead, we had the opposite. The UK may have weathered the worst of the period of austerity, and economic growth and productivity, while still low, are stable and unemployment at an all-time low.

But political discourse is more fractious, ill-tempered and untrustworthy than at any point for years. If we are to take the opportunities offered, and face the challenges presented, by the newly settled political climate – no matter our individual reservations or opposition to it – that sort of instinctive antagonism must be overcome. In both Scotland and across the UK, there must be much greater readiness to serve the interests of the country and its people, with a concentration on improving lives – in particular, for those who are struggling with everyday practicalities, and who feel disillusioned with, and deserted by, politicians who choose instead to focus on ideology and identity.

There is no need for that in dealing with matters such as housing, transport, pensions or the NHS, nor should any party believe or claim that they have some sort of monopoly on how those sectors could be reformed or maintained to serve people more effectively. If this decade began with the hope of greater political compromise, and instead delivered years of polarisation, it is to be hoped that the coming years will see politicians set aside such divisions in favour of effective measures to improve and rebuild. No one expects profound differences in approach, or deep convictions about overarching issues, to be abandoned, not should they be. But without a genuine will to work together on other, more immediate, priorities, politicians of every stamp will lose any remaining trust, and deservedly so.