I’m not sure how to write this blog entry, for it relates to something that has been on my mind for a long, long time. Yet, unlike most of the things have have been on my mind a while, it is the first time I have blogged directly about this subject.
When I moved back to the UK from Brussels in 2010 it was not purely for the professional reasons I stated at the time. There were political reasons too. Having joined the Labour Party in 1996 and with a decade of EU experience behind me, I thought I might be able to throw myself headlong into Labour politics in London and could put my name forward for Labour’s European Parliament election list for London for the 2014 elections. The selection process for that will start this autumn.
The problem is that it has not turned out that way.
I’ve grown to feel like more and more of an outsider in Labour as the months have passed. I attend events like last Saturday’s Progress conference and ask myself ‘what am I doing here?’ I have dipped my toe in local Labour Party politics in Bow, but work pressures have meant I have not spent as much time with the Bow Labour people as I should have done. I’ve blogged for LabourList on EU matters, but found it hard to gain readership or traction. I’ve helped build up the network of Labour members known as Labour Values, a small step towards improving Labour on the inside.
In the meantime the politics of the European Union, and also how the European Union is perceived in the UK, have gone from bad to worse. I cannot begin to defend how leaders of EU countries have dealt with the fallout of the Eurozone crisis, or the flaws in the design of the Fiscal Compact. The more I examine the behaviour of the institutions, and the party shenanigans inside them, the more depressed I get. I likewise cannot countenance the growing calls in the UK – even within Labour – for a referendum to be held on the UK’s membership of the EU. I’ve not seen a balanced debate in a referendum in the UK, and I’ve followed the Welsh Assembly and AV referendums closely, and I can see no way an in-out EU referendum would be any different (this ‘debate’ on my own blog partially shows why).
At a personal level, throwing myself into the selection process fills me with absolute dread. The need to identify allies on the board of London Labour, to lobby those people, to schmooze with everyone I meet in a political context and convince them of the merits of my candidacy scares me. I cannot bear the thought of it. But it’s vital in order to succeed.
Further, I cannot take the same approach to this as I do to everything else in life and in politics, namely fairly and transparently building networks of collaboration through blogging and online networking. That’s just not the way that things are done in a political party.
In the end I simply do not believe in myself to try to get selected, and if I do not believe in it myself, then there is no way I can begin to persuade others.
So, admittedly with some sadness in my heart, from now on I will no longer be pursuing my aim to be selected for Labour for the EP in 2014. There are other things in life.
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