I am very fortunate to have worked for two excellent politicians, Pat Glass and Jude Kirton-Darling. I worked as Pat’s Senior Case Officer and Press Officer between 2010 and 2017 and for Jude as Policy and Engagements Officer from October 2019 to February 2020.
Jude sat as Member of the European Parliament for the North East, representing Labour between 2014 and 2020. Jude is a friendly and kind person who wears her heart on her sleeve and is the very best of politicians. Her leaving office is a loss to politics and in whatever role she chooses to undertake moving forward she will be a success. I told her that she would be in high demand and I hope she realised I genuinely feel this way and was not simply buttering up my boss.
Both Jude and Pat had strong CVs before becoming politicians, as did the late Ron Hogg who passed away from Motor Neurone Disease at the end of last year, meaning a selection for a new PCVC candidate is taking place.
Pat had a brilliant career before entering parliament and this underpinned her being an assured politician who connected well with everyone she met and it was unfortunate that the end of her career co-incited with the toxicity of brexit. The truth is that Pat was planning to retire anyway. Not many people can reach the top of their profession then finish as a MP representing their home constituency for seven years. Anyone wishing to be critical should compare Pat’s career to their own. She beats most of us.
I toyed with the idea of putting myself forward as a candidate for Police, Crime and Victims Commissioner, noting that politics does allow for “normal” people to emerge from the ether and become strong candidates. I (respectfully) point to North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll and current Northumbria PCC Kim McGuinness who had good, but not spectacular CVs before entering their current prestigious positions. Politics does afford this opportunity and is supposed to encourage applications from “unlikely” (again I feel ungenerous but I put myself in that category) candidates.
However, I decided against applying after reviewing the application form which asked for details about large organisations which I had led and other questions which made it almost impossible for anyone not already at the top to come through. This disappointed me as I don’t feel we should effectively rule out a candidate from a normal background looking to make a splash with great ideas. Labour talks about wanting politicians that reflect society but in practise this often cannot happen.
Closing Jude’s office down on Friday was a surreal experience. My colleague took the lead in sorting out the contracts and I ensured policy responses and constituent enquiries were dealt with as well as leading on putting together the legacy booklet Jude published. This included building a large mailing list, hunting out the postal addresses we needed and drafting a letter for Jude to sign and include. It was quite the undertaking and we stuffed and sent 101 letters in the end as well as publishing the booklet as a downloadable PDF on her website. I also co-ordinated the collection of the computer equipment on the last day and did a bit of cleaning.
Once the computer equipment had been taken away, I gave the desks, window sills and the cupboard shelves a quick clean, placed my security pass on the desk of the Buildings Manager who was off that day and left. Most of the Labour staff had been moved to the first floor so the place was about 80% empty. It all felt quite anti-climatic.
I had always felt like the job was temporary and never likely to carry on beyond January. I disliked the commute and I never felt quite at home in the office building. First and foremost I’m always a pragmatist, whether considering brexit, leadership or politics in general. So once the election result happened I immediately accepted we were leaving, for better or worse.
So, what next? For me it’s as you were until May 2021. I hope to be re-selected to stand for election again, even though it will be difficult. I’m ruling nothing out, there are other factors involved. I’m trying a new thing for a business that may give me more options. I don’t want to work in Newcastle and I remain keen to find something I can enjoy and stay in even as I’ve not had proper security for 15 years. My preference would be for that to be from home as I passionately believe in working to live, not living to work.