Losing an election is a strange experience but one that I have experienced on a number of occasions. Out of five times I have stood for public office, three of those attempts have ended in failure.
On this occasion I lost a position I enjoyed as a councillor on Durham County Council. It’s a stark situation. If you lose, you’re yesterday’s news. I received a short form to complete listing the items of equipment I would return. I will visit and return my locker key, car park pass, car sticker, iPad, Laptop, carry bags; it all goes back. Then I leave the building for the last time and that’s it for a minimum of four years.
When I was given the news I had lost I was nonplussed, but as time passes and I see other colleagues being re-elected, some with high majorities I would have certainly welcomed, there was a part of me that wished I was still there. Of course on a difficult day for our party, other friends followed me out of the door, some of whom who would have fully expected to win. Politics can be, and very often is, a rough and blunt instrument of fairness.
I am not sorry to see the back of certain elements of politics. I’ve been on the front line for over 13 years. I have leafleted almost every housing estate of North West Durham, let alone every town and village. I’ve been badly bitten by a dog, I’ve been abused, had leaflets thrown at me and had people swear at me. There’s been a few nice people too, but naturally they are far less memorable. Some of our canvassers thrive on these interpersonal interactions, personally I prefer to avoid the idiots.
So in leaving politics behind and the reality that I most likely will not contest public office again (never say never though – it’s always tempting if you’ve done it before), I close the door on a 13-year period of my life.
The focus moves to replacing the things that being in office gives you without you even realising it. Group purpose, shared endeavour, wider purpose and a sense that you matter, even if it is simply as a target of derision, those things go in an instant when you are no longer in office. The challenge now is to replace these mindsets in my life, which will take some effort.
My new job as a Political Consultant for a large public affairs agency is related to politics and involves liaising with politicians. I know what makes them tick and focusing on issues rather than conjecture and lies of often ill-informed and malicious people is a welcome change. My situation could certainly be a lot worse, so I’m happy, despite acknowledging that I did want to win.
Comebacks are only possible after a setback and I’ve had more than my fair share. It’s a cliche to say I will bounce back, but I will try to, in some form.