It’s not true to say I have long been disillusioned with party politics, because that would mean I had been “illusioned” in the first place. Obviously I would rather boil my own head than vote Tory, but Labour drives me quite mad. And the Lib Dems are simply mad. This was how I felt at the last election, which is why on the spur of the moment I decided to stand as an indie. Which was possibly the maddest thing of all.
It is unlikely that you will get elected when you campaign for only three weeks, have no money and no staff, and actually dread the idea of meetings, point-scoring debates and feigning interest in loads of boring stuff that actual MPs have to do.
This is how I found myself in my local high street with a balloon, some badges, my kids and friends with my leaflets, designed by my mate Spike.
I stood next to the canvassers on the Green stall, who were very friendly, whereas the Labour people – who assume this seat is theirs – were rude. They’d arrive in a minibus, bustle about shouting, and be gone in five minutes.
The local freesheet said it would have endorsed me but it was too late as it had already photographed the Monster Raving Looney – or Nigel, as I came to know him.
All sorts of people promised to vote for me, though most of them did not live in the area or seem to grasp that this mattered. Everyone had their own issues.
“What are you going to do about drugs?” asked a man in the street.
“What, all of them? How about acid?”
“Oh, acid for sure.”
I also became authoritative about parking even though I haven’t really a clue. Parking was certainly a bigger issue than Afghanistan – but I was campaigning outside the health-food shop and saying I’d pull out all the troops.
You see, if you set yourself up as “a real person”, one unlike other would-be MPs, you nonetheless soon find yourself aping the politicians you so despise, pretending to know everything and promising things you have no way of delivering even if you were to be elected.
Most of the issues people were concerned about were the job of the council and not that of an MP at all. Could I get their repairs done? Could I get a fiver knocked off their rent?
Often I had to explain that there was an election at all. They had no idea. A film crew from Belgium came and kept referring to everyone I chatted to as being “from the ghetto”.
Still, on polling day, as I put an X next to my own name, I remembered I’d promised a man in the park assisted suicide because my friend texted to tell me that was what’d make him vote for me. “I love assisted suicide,” I texted back.
One vote in the bag!
All power corrupts, and I’d not even got any yet . . .