Years ago I took part in a mock election at school. It wasn't really a choice as only three of us had any interest in politics and as they both took Labour and Conservative I was left (reluctantly) to stand as a liberal. I read the manifesto and gave it my best shot, but pretty much could see through the nonsense back then. I also knew from day one that Labour would get all the votes in a safe labour seat as the school was. It was interesting to do, but didn't inspire me to go into politics. It is depressing to become disillusioned at the age of 16 by the futility of my attempt to persuade people to vote for me when I knew they would all vote the same way as their parents.
I avoided going into student politics at University mostly as those who did take part were insufferable "hacks" and I couldn't see myself associating with them. Instead, I did a bit of radio, a bit of journalism, a bit of charity, a bit of film and not a lot of anything really. When I came back to London friends suggested that I should try stand up - do a few impersonations and make people laugh and they flatter you that you have a talent ! My fledgling attempts, however, suffered from my lack of confidence and lack of material as I wasn't able to translate my political thoughts into funny jokes.
In recent years I've been repeatedly asked why I don't go into politics. Even Hubbie has encouraged me to and while it does appeal I have a few (probably very stupid) reasons why I haven't:
Firstly, is the fear of falling out with people. While I like a healthy discussion and a robust exchange of views my problem is when I disagree with someone I like. It makes me feel bad and if I felt like that every time I had to make an unpopular decision what kind of politician would I be ? Oh yes I'd be a liberal in the coalition goverment (probably).
Secondly, I have a pathological fear of being judged and portrayed negatively by the media. When David Blunkett was keen to introduce ID cards as Home Secretary I recall hearing an interview with someone who said, "for a blind man he's keen to see everything" and I was appalled. Now, I'm no apologist for Blunkett or his policies, but when did it become ok to mock a man for his disability ?Surely that is too low a blow even for the most hideous of the media commentators. Of course we now know that this is the same media that would hack the phone of a murdered girl, so they are hardly in the business of being fair or playing nice.
Thirdly, I actually want to make a difference and help people and from what I can see that is the last thing that happens when you become a politician. In between compromise and towing the party line where is there room to actually get someone help for their aged parents or to stop a children's playground from being closed ? Every now and then an MP is able to get a result for a constituent and it makes a massive difference to that person's life. That's the stuff I want to do.
What I don't want is to get wheeled out on Question Time every few weeks to show how diverse my party is (yes Warsi we are bored of seeing and hearing you, please switch the lights off when you leave). Or to be pushed through the ranks quickly and always wonder if it was because of my gender or race rather than my ability.
Instead I think I'll just try to do my best without the need for a rosette. Although, I did always like the idea of being in the 'standing at the back looking stupid party.'