Saturday, July 12, 2008

Being a candidate

Husband well-meaningly brought home a book from the library entitled "How to win an election". (Join the National Party, I immediately thought, but as that is never going to happen I better see what this book has to say.)

It is written in the UK context so the FPP scenario, not quite the reality of being in a minority party where one individual can fill more than one role. For instance Paul Richards, the author, identifies the nine "tribes" involved in an election; voters, candidates, pollsters, policy wonks, activists, spin doctors, journalists, pundits and fixers. In the broadest sense, at least 5 or 6 of these can apply to me.

But I was most interested in what he had to say about candidates and although it is depressing it only confirms what I believe.

"Modern politics is a tough, unfair, exhausting and grubby pursuit....the pressures are enormous, the hours exhausting, the reward little and the thanks non-existent. The incidence of divorce, alcohol abuse and mental illness is high...if you put yourself forward for an election, the first thing to disappear is your private life...if your political career rises above the very lowest of the rungs on the ladder, the truth will out.....It was Aristotle who suggested that democracy would only work if everyone who wanted to stand for office was immediately disqualified, and maybe he had a point."

Which is exactly the point I made when I briefly addressed the audience at our national conference earlier this year. I don't want to be an MP. We should be suspicious of people who so desperately do. I am only running because I have no choice. Someone has to control the control freaks. Someone has to try and neutralise the nannies, the regulators and social engineers. As I seem unable to shut up about how much bad ideas have hurt this country, I also seem to be duty bound to take it a step further.

But I confess to being a very poor specimen by this book's standards;

"In an election the candidate is the lynchpin. They must be unfailingly cheerful. They must never lose their tempers, or raise their voices...never tired or grumpy....never let their feelings show. Candidates must possess super-human reserves of happiness, energy, gratitude, interest in others and gregariousness."

Unfortunately, the day I stop being angry is the day I stop doing this. But I add the proviso that the day I lose my sense of humour is also the day everyone else should tell me to stop doing it.

1 comment:

Stephen Franks said...

Yes Lindsay it has all those costs and stresses, but it is also funny/ridiculous. One hears absurd theories about one's own character, motivation and connections. Chance plays its hand every day.
The nearest comparison for me is mountain climbing. The cold, the wet, the danger turn every moment into vivid living.
When a forgotten qualification or a malicious journalist could turn you into a public idiot at any time even the most mundane activity seems significant.
The chance to leave things better than you found them should be enough to motivate, but I think it is actually the difficulties that themselves make it seem worthwhile. That and getting to know the kinds of people who put themselves out to help with no prospect or thought of reward beyond sharing in the success of your project.