10 signs that you’re in politics for the wrong reasons

It is five years since a “crisis of political faith” drove me back into the Labour Party and into full-blooded party political campaigning. Looking back, it is hard to believe how strongly I resisted it and how much I wanted to keep myself above the fray. People are often surprised to hear that I had, at that point, been out of the game for over ten years.

Over these past five years I have learnt a great deal and met a lot of people. Politics is as much about human nature as it is about policy, and political campaigning offers an extraordinary window into people’s souls.

Politics is an extremely costly business – especially in terms of time and energy. The time commitment involved does force us to live abnormal lives – and this can cause tensions in personal relationships. At those times, I am forced to remind myself why I do what I do. Because unless I am doing this for the right reasons, there are – quite frankly – much better things I could be doing with my time.

I have learnt to see the tell-tale signs that someone might be in politics for the wrong reasons. We are all at risk of succumbing to any or all of them on occasions!

1)      You have never campaigned for someone who has defeated you in a parliamentary/council candidate selection.

2)      You think that the “wrong” person being selected in a parliamentary/council candidate selection is a legitimate reason not to campaign for the winning candidate.

3)      You decide that a “Super Saturday” with a Shadow Minister would provide a really useful networking opportunity – especially the bit in the pub afterwards.*

4)      Given the choice between campaigning in your local ward and attending a political conference in London, you would choose the political conference every single time.

5)      You say you want more “working class” politicians and then go on to back an establishment candidate against other “working class” candidates.

6)      You are sycophantic towards successfully selected parliamentary candidates but fail to even acknowledge the existence of those they have defeated.

7)      You worry more about what Dan Hodges thinks than the woman hit by the bedroom tax who you got talking to during your most recent canvassing session.

8)      You think that leafleting is what “rank and file” members do and you’re above that.

9)      Your strongest political adversary is in the same political party as you.

10)   You believe that the interests of your own political career are as important – if not more so – than the interests of the millions of people using foodbanks and resorting to loansharks.

As we plan for May 2015, it is crucial that we keep our attitude in check so we can focus wholeheartedly on the goal of defeating the Tories and forming the next government. Millions of people are depending on us to be in politics for the right reasons.

*Guilty as charged!