I used to be an extremely good, effective, political campaigner. Now I’m a liability. I want to change that.
In 2010, during the General Election, I delivered so many leaflets that I amazed even several of the hardier campaigner — for several years, one of our then-councillors would talk about how “we gave him a pile of leaflets and pointed him in the right direction, *AND HE JUST KEPT GOING*!”
Between 2009 and 2012, I gave up every Saturday, first for the No2ID campaign, then for the AV campaign, then to campaign for the re-election of a local councillor.
But this year, on election day, I was given fifty leaflets to deliver and had to sit down three times while delivering them.
I was chosen for my local party’s executive in late 2013, but had to give up after a year because I was doing such a bad job I was holding other people back from getting things done.
The reason for this change is that I’ve had a series of health crises, starting in 2011 and getting progressively worse. At first, I thought they were purely down to work-related stress, but it seems more and more likely that there is also a physical component (being investigated at the moment). I tire so easily that some nights I’m in bed for 7PM (more often, though, I can’t sleep at all til three or four in the morning). I’ve had back problems (currently better than they have been, but it comes and goes) that at times are so bad I can’t stand up long enough to take a shower.
And the mental and physical energy it takes to cope with those things means that I’ve not been good at other stuff. I think I’ve written good stuff in the last three years or so (I think Head of State may be the best thing I’ve ever written, and I like The Adventure Of The Piltdown Prelate a lot too) but I’ve written a lot less of the freewheeling, playful stuff that I love writing — that requires more mental work than I’ve been consistently capable of, and I’ve only been able to do a few things like that per year, rather than a few a week.
In the same way, I simply don’t have the energy for the social events that bind a political party together. Dealing with people is hard for me at the best of times, and the last three years have not been the best. I think I’m doing better overall than I have in several years, but some worrying physical symptoms say that might not last.
For a long time, my way of dealing with this has been to *not* deal, to assume this will be a temporary condition, and the energy I had in, say, 2011 will return Real Soon Now. I still hope it will, but I’ve been letting people down for three years now, and I don’t like it.
So this Parliament, I want to be ruthless about my priorities, in case I’m still this ill in five years’ time. I *HOPE* that I’ll soon be able to give up a full day a week to campaigning, as I used to, but right now I can give *at most* an hour a week, and that’s not certain.
So I want to concentrate on a very small number of things. From a national political perspective my aims are:
At least doubling the Lib Dems’ share of the vote by 2020
Getting STV implemented, no matter who the next government is
Getting basic income or negative income tax made Lib Dem policy
Obviously when I say “my aims” here, I mean “things I hope to happen and to make a small difference towards” — no matter how efficiently I use my time, me doing one hour a week isn’t going to achieve those things.
But given the limitation that I can probably only do one hour a week MAX, probably less, only on weekend afternoons, and that I’m rubbish with people and have limited mobility, what do people think is the most effective way I can campaign for those things? Any suggestions would be *very* gratefully received…
My suggestion is that you concentrate on the third objective, getting the party to adopt basic income as a policy. This is because you can do this mainly by writing and by understanding and explaining complex policy details, both of which you are very good at. (I was, for example, very appreciative of your digging into the dog’s breakfast of the Health and Social Care bill.)
I’m speaking here as a party member who is instinctively sympathetic to the basic income idea, but not yet convinced about it in practice because I have yet to see a solid, quantitative, robust proposal. I don’t imagine I’m alone in that. If someone were to produce a really convincing version of the policy and disseminate it in the Lib Dem blogosphere, that could go a long way towards building sufficient support within the party for the policy to get through conference. I can’t think of a better person to do this than you.