Campaign diary

Campaign diary: a candidate's uphill struggle

Here are the 16 columns I wrote for Independent Digital, the website of the Independent and Independent on Sunday newspapers, during the 2001 general election. The grey and black graphics were designed by Independent Digital and ran as adverts across their site during the campaign.

I won’t pretend I was flooded with fan mail as a result, but they were generally well-received. Here is an extract from an e-mail I received from a voter in Scotland:

I wanted to write to thank you for your diary column in the Independent, which I am enjoying very much. In particular, I find your honesty extremely refreshing and I’m very pleased to see you praising other politicians even though they are of an opposing party.

When I set out to write them I didn’t intend to make any great statement of political philosophy, but as I got stuck in I found some themes developing. Again and again I found myself writing about the need for politicians to listen to people and to actively earn their support instead of expecting it by divine right, and also the dreadful cycnicism of everyone involved – voters, politicians, journalists and lobbyists alike.

But it’s not all heavy stuff: there’s plenty of room for the lighter moments too, such as the campaign helper who demanded payment in chocolate, the Tory who was convinced the EU was about to abolish the Queen, hints on how to turn me incoherent with rage, and just how the bloke from the UKIP brought the house down…

Read on!