Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Politics and emotion: in praise of the human beings

"It is objectionable in both men and women to cry over a political defeat, but more so in men. Clegg is an embarrassment."

So thinks Louise Mensch apparently. What utter, utter rubbish.

I don't usually 'do' politics on this blog (regular readers fear not, regular service will be resumed shortly) but I'm going to make a very brief exception.

The past few days have been horrible - horrible - for the Lib Dems. Even as someone who's been taking a horribly selfish ('hey guys, you've made me redundant twice now so if you don't want me then I don't want you') sabbatical from active involvement in the party until very recently, I'm hurting right now.

For all the things that annoy me about the party, all the people in it that I don't agree with or straight up don't like (looking in your direction, Matthew Oakshott), it's my party. It's part of who I am, for better or worse. So yes, for all my affected nonchalance, when it takes a kicking I get upset. When it takes a kicking as hard as it has done recently, I get very upset. And maybe there's something weirder about people that don't than there is about me.

It's much more personal than that though. I've made most of the best friends I've got through the Lib Dems; people who've made my life much richer and who I know I'll be friends with for a very long time (not forgetting those who I really wish we're still around - Andrew you're so especially missed at times like this). And a lot of those people have had their lives completely turned upside down by the events of the past few days. Fantastic, hardworking politicians and their, in my admittedly very biased view, even harder working and more fantastic staff woke up on Monday morning wondering what the hell to do now. I've been there, I know how much it hurts, how frightening it is and it's breaking my heart to see people I care about going through it now. Maybe there are people in other parties, even in the Lib Dems, who haven't made these sort of connections or who just don't care about them. I feel really sorry for those people.

That's why I'm in no way embarrassed to admit I've cried over a political defeat in the past few days. I've been hurt and so have the people I care about - why wouldn't I? And if I've shed a tear or several - someone who's delivered maybe three rounds of leaflets, artworked a couple of tabloids and helped out at one count in the past year; who's career and financial security are in no way at stake - then why shouldn't others? Why shouldn't Nick Clegg?

I've only been a Lib Dem member for 10 years. I've never been elected and nor would I want to be. I think anyone who's prepared to be publicly associated with a political party in that way at any level is incredibly brave. To be leader? I think that's frankly a bit insane. To be leader of the Lib Dems at the moment? Well, that's something else.

I think Nick is incredibly brave. I think he's a fantastic leader and a gifted politician. From my experience he's also a genuinely nice guy who cares about this party and what it stands for. Of course he's upset about the last few days and, given how some people seem to think it's entirely his fault (they are of course 100% wrong), he arguably has more reason to be than anyone else. And I know if I was being subjected to the sort of nonsense from people in my own party, let alone the actual opposition, as he has been I think I'd be upset too. He gives a shit, y'know. I like that.

So Louise Mensch can keep her unfeeling automatons. I'm glad we have a leader who actually cares, who hurts along with the rest of us, who isn't so ridiculously backward in outlook that he's afraid to show it.

And, by the way, I hope we have him for a while to come.

So what's to be done now? I'm not much of an expert (you've likely noticed this by now) but for me personally the answer is pretty simple. Put my battered ego back in its box and get back on the horse. I hope a few others will join me. Because if there's one thing that's for damn sure, I have no intention of feeling this bad again come May 2015.

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