I started filling in the application form to be a Change UK (TIG) candidate for the European Parliamentary elections. I did not submit it, but I am glad that 3,700 other people did and that the Renew party folded into Change UK as well. Democracy requires choices.
I started filling in the form as a way for me to think about politics in the UK and my role in it. As I said before I got more involved when I realised that our political system was not as good as I thought it should be. Clearly, nothing has happened to change my views on that :)
I am fully aware of my limitations as a politician, but I know with certainty that I could a better job than some of our MP’s. It is not that I think they are bad people or corrupt or in politics for the wrong reasons, just that they lack the skills, knowledge, commitment or emotional intelligence required. A few should not be MP’s.
I do not know if the Conservative party will survive. It has many sensible, rational people but it has got itself into a terrible mess. The party as an institution has major problems and I think the differences between the ERG wing and the rest are too far now to be reconciled. Some have become fixated on leaving rather than on how we leave the EU in a way that does the least damage to our political and economic systems
All parties should be broad churches and the Conservatives have been a success for centuries by maintaining a level of discipline that allows at least a perception that we are one party. That has clearly broken down.
And I think the differences are so great as to be a form of dishonesty when you vote Conservative what will you get? A leaver like Steve Baker or a remainer like Ken Clark, a Jacob Rees Mogg or a John Major, a Mark Francois or a Rory Stewart (I am on the Clark, Major, Stewart side by the way). Both sides will argue that they are the true Conservative, but that is my point it is not clear which is which anymore, which is where the unintentional dishonesty now comes. But the country needs a sensible and pragmatic Conservative party if it is to work (and Conservatives have for almost two centuries been the natural party of government).
At least Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston had the courage of their convictions and left. They knew it was probably the end of their political careers, but they did it anyway.
But what do I do?
Do I try and change the Conservatives from within? I have tried, I have twice applied to go onto the candidate's list, nothing has happened yet. I applied to be a GLA candidate on the London wide list and did not get beyond the 1st stage interview. The London wide list candidates were selected last month, and I have no idea who they are or what they have done yet although the whole point of picking them early was to get them active and known.
Perhaps I should change parties? I did that once before in the early 2000s when I joined the Liberal Democrats the last time the Conservatives went loopy over Europe. But it was a mistake then and my gut says it would be a mistake now. It is not that I dislike the Lib-Dems or think they are beyond the pale but like Stephen Lloyd MP who quit the Lib-Dems over Brexit, I do not agree that you can pretend that the Leave vote did not happen. I am not convinced they are the solution.
But there is so much work to do locally I suspect me talking about national politics is a distraction from the many local issues that need to be worked on.
But the European Parliamentary elections I think are an opportunity to test where we are as a nation almost 3 years after the Brexit vote so I do plan to do some work on this, to encourage people to vote, to make sure they understand the process (especially the D'Hondt method of counting the results) and to answer any questions you may have. But I hope people will look at the issues, the policies, the candidates before casting their vote.