Political suicide

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2003

If you've been following this journal for a while you may have noticed that I used to talk about politics a lot, and now I hardly do at all. There's a reason for this.

I'm sick of it.

And I think that, for almost the first time in over 15 years, I'm dropping out of active politics. It'll be a big wrench. Politics has consistently been one of the biggest things in my life – often the biggest thing – for as long as I can remember. But I'm sick of so much.

I'm sick of not being able to walk past a newsagent without thinking I must buy all the local papers to see what issues there are that week. I'm sick of not being able to see that a church fair or a school fete is coming up without thinking I should be there to get my face known. I'm sick of not being able to drive past a road without wondering what would be the best route for a leaflet-delivery walk, and how long it is since it was last leafleted.

And I'm sick of people too. I'm sick of the way that nowadays ordinary people assume that if you come with a political label attached you must automatically be corrupt, selfish, a liar and only in it for yourself. When I started out you generally had to do something to earn people's hostility – now it comes as the default position. I mean, why do they think people go into politics in the first place? You certainly don't sign up the Liberal Democrats because you're power-hungry – not in bloody Hounslow you don't, anyway. The simple fact is that I see people in politics – opponents as well as colleagues – who devote every waking moment to trying to make the lives of their constituents better and all their only reward is to be sneered at. Why bother?

But most of all, I want to walk away because I had goals for myself, targets, and I've proved I can't meet them. The Lib Dems produce a certain type of person who hits an area like a whirlwind and by force of personality turns it from a dead area into a stronghold over the course of 10 – 15 years. In London, Lynne Featherstone is about eight years into doing it in Haringey and Nick Stanton is about five years down the road in Southwark. Ed Davey's done it in Kingston. In North Norfolk in 1991 I helped the obscure but ambitious Norman Lamb's team in a couple of insignificant by-elections. Norman's the MP there now. I hoped that, if given the opportunity, I would prove to be like that. Well, I have been given the opportunity – at ward, constituency and borough level – and I'm not.

That's a bitter pill to swallow.

And I have a lot to disengage myself from. Borough chair. Prospective Parliamentary Candidate. Press spokesperson (not that I ever speak to them). Website editor. Electoral database officer. GLA campaign liaison. Target ward organiser. Regional conference representative.

But if I'm not enjoying it and not achieving what I want to achieve, and if what I'm doing is falling on deaf ears anyway, then why continue making myself unhappy?

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I'm Andy Darley. Sometimes I want to say things. This is where I do it.