Stephen Tall has posted an excellent piece on Liberal Democrat Voice entitled “Can politicians ever aspire to a real work/life balance?”. It revolves around the case of Nick Radford ,who has said he will not stand again as a PPC in Salisbury. He quotes Nick as saying:
… it was never the “cut and thrust” of the politics that stimulated me, in fact I really didn’t like that side of it. … In all the 5 years that I was in politics, I never met a single person involved who came across as content, peaceful and happy in life. Everyone in politics is strained. I just don’t think it is an occupation which puts you at peace. There is constant conflict, drama, hyperbole and everyone is always in a rush. You’re always being attacked or attacking someone – it’s just not good karma. It leaves you nervous, paranoid, hollow. There was no time for the simple things in life. These days I feel like a different person. I have a quiet, wholesome happiness right at my core. I know it sounds cliched but I have an “inner peace” which I never had at any point in the last 5 years. I get to read books, go for runs, make good food, research obscure topics that interest me, spend time with my family and with Eeva, dream and make plans for the future – it’s like a whole new lease of life.
I have appended this comment to the article:
Nick did an excellent job in Salisbury and was a fine PPC. We should be grateful that he gave five years of his life to the party.
His comment about karma, and having time to read books etc is very good. It strikes a chord.
I think those involved in politics should ask themselves constantly: “When I am on my deathbed, will I say “I wish I had spent more time in meetings” or am I more likely to say “I wish I spent more time with my family” ?”
I have known several people whose marriages have broken up as a result of one of the partners being a unitary authority councillor. It is a bit like a drug. Sometimes, I am grateful I have a strong partner who has helped me steer away from too much politics.
As to what we can do as a party, I think we should constantly reach out for new people and accept that we can’t have lots of time from people for year after year without it extracting a toll on their lives. We should be more content with less time from more people, rather than lots of time from a few people.
By the way, very often it is those who are not fully paid who have the problem. Perhaps when you are an MP with a salary and staff, the problem is eased to an extent – although then you have the madness of toing and froing from/to Westminster. But being an unpaid PPC and trying to hold down a job and a family is complete madness of the highest order.
By the way, I am sure Nick will make a great contribution to the party in future in some way, and that contribution will be all the more valuable given that he will be strengthened and broadened by having that elusive thing – a life.