Since missing out by 14 votes on being re-elected to Luton Borough Council on May 5th lots of people have been very kind in expressing their own disappointment at my loss and asking after my welfare. I am hugely grateful for the support people have shown.
One of the commonest things I have been asked is “are you all right?”. Sometimes this enquiry has been accompanied by an expression on their face that suggests they are either expecting me shout out in anger and rage at the unfairness of it all or breakdown and start sobbing on their shoulder. My actual response has been to smile and say “yes, I’m fine”.
And, to a very large degree, I am. I always knew it was going to be a tough election and the possibility of defeat was always with me so I was able to prepare myself for the eventuality. I do have a life and interest outside politics and I had already had initial thoughts about how my life would change if I were not a councillor. Also I was determined to “be a man” in the sense of the old Kipling poem and attempt to greet whichever turned up out of triumph or disaster in roughly the same manner. This determination may have approached enforced cheerfulness at times, particularly as the full horror of the launch of my career as the poster boy for Lib Dem misery became clear to me, still I am in the main pretty OK about things.
However, I do now realise that it is going to take me longer to truly adjust to not being a local councillor than I had initially expected. I still find myself worrying about issues and concerns that I no longer have any influence over. In truth I had limited influence over some of these things when I was a councillor, but I suppose I had more of a legitimate reason to worry about them. I do have this niggling sense of loss that I no longer have a voice in the counsels of the elders of my tribe. Or something like that anyway.
Now I am not someone who often rushes to judgement. I have a tendency to need time to process things. To stop, think and reflect before moving forward. Sometimes this is a weakness, I know that it often is frustrating, but mostly I believe it to be a real strength. So I am choosing to take my time to adjust to the election result and to work out what comes after. I thought I would use making posts on this blog as part of my working things out. Given that it is now roughly a month on it is about time I started to write some of these thoughts down.
I have been thinking a lot not only about May’s election result here in Luton, but what has happened nationally in politics over the last few years, and about the highs and lows of my eight years as a Luton Borough Councillor. There are two themes that have come out.
The first is to try and work out what those eight years actually mean. In some ways I feel the need to justify my time as an elected member both to myself and to the wider world. So I want to try and catalogue and write about what I think I actually achieved as a councillor. And possibly more usefully where I went wrong.
The second is less specific but I hope more widely applicable. It is an attempt to try and learn the lessons from my involvement politics and the things that have happened to and around me. A kind of discussion of, having reached this point, how I see the political world and what conclusions I have come to.
Having thought through all that I will then be ready I hope to establish, if not plans, some clear ideas for my new direction.
While I am mainly doing this for my benefit, I hope readers of ‘Strange Thoughts’ won’t be too bored and that they may even find something of interest in these posts.
This content was originally posted on my old Strange Thoughts blog.