I used to be into Politics

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I don’t know why but I used to be into Politics. I couldn’t wait to leave school and take up my A-level in Politics. Our tutor was a wiry lady, reminiscent of Thatcher in her later years and an accent to match. We sniggered at her bright red whisky drinker’s nose and privately-educated rumoured-love-child. As if that wasn’t indication enough of her personal political affiliation. But she was sharp both of tongue and of wit, and thus earned our respect. It was a great course. We toured the Houses of Parliament and snooped around Number 10. I read Richard Nixon’s biography and watched the news religiously. None of which dampened my enthusiasm. Had I not followed my teacher’s nose a little too much at college I might have pushed for a top grade. I couldn’t wait to vote. Shortly after my 18th birthday the opportunity arose with a small bi-election. I waited patiently for my polling card but it never arrived. I was turned away from the polling station when it transpired that my mother had mixed up my date of birth with my younger brother’s on the registration form. There was nothing that could be done. I couldn’t vote that time, and I don’t think I did until after I met my husband. Some sort of one woman protest at bureaucratic incompetence (not my mother’s obviously- although I remember not speaking to her all night- but the authority who couldn’t and wouldn’t check or change the register). I couldn’t wait to be a Member of Parliament. Obviously I was too young when I left college, so I did what I thought was the next best thing – I got a job at the local Council. The seat of our Prime Minister at the time no less! Of course then I found out what politics was really like, both with a large and a small p as we used to say. Someone asked me today to come up with a phrase to “sell” work experience. “A taste of your dream career” I said. Or perhaps, “what work is really like”. In truth, nothing prepares you. As a young person with a fairly secure upbringing it’s like a dawning realisation that people do bad things. A bit like politics really. All the bright promises of a new government are mired in a messy inability of being unable to please everyone. I’m now particularly uneasy about people who pin their colours to the mast. I reserve my respect for those who can see what really lies beneath the promises. Workplaces are nothing if not political microcosms, and I despair that, in the main, the personality cult wins. We vote for charisma, we vote for good looks and we vote selfishly. Politics. Yawn. I can’t wait for this election to be over.

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