It has been a common theme of my life that friends occasionally – though less so nowadays – ask why I never went into politics.
I think this is almost always because I’m the most opinionated person they know, and am capable of stringing-together an argument in many spheres of political life, from NHS funding to banking regulation, geopolitics, transport and even the election process itself.
Actually, I have cogent opinions on much less than my friends might imagine. I believe in Climate Change because of the weight of scientific opinion I’ve seen, but I confess that I couldn’t argue down a committed denier. I won’t go near the Arab-Israeli conflict, not because I have friends on both sides (I do) but because I fell out with a very good Jewish friend of mine about it the last time Israel had a crack at Gaza, and you know what, it’s just not worth it. It wasn’t worth offending a dear, kind, passionate friend to post my half-baked (if, I thought, well-intentioned) opinion online. I don’t like being wrong, and I was way out of my depth on that one.
Now, I try to stay out of any issue where I’m just not well-informed enough to argue the case of one side or another, and don’t have any “skin in the game” as they say.
In the case of Palestine, I sympathise with both sides, but can’t truly empathise with either. And so now I stay out of it. I think it’s a good rule, certainly for me.
That’s Reason One for not attempting a political career; the need to have to form an opinion on pretty much every issue from Abortion to Zoning, when you don’t have time to wade through enough material to equip you with good sense.
Reason Two is that I don’t wish to sacrifice everything else in my life in the pursuit of…what exactly? Johnny Marr, ex genius guitarist of 80’s Manchester legends The Smiths, says his interest in party politics ended the day he met Neil Kinnock. “Politicians are fame-hounds,” he told Nick Robinson in an interview with BBC Radio 4 on his new autobiography. There’s a lot of truth in that. And I have a lot of other interests.
Reason Three is that I have wayyyyyyyy too much “history” for a political career. That would make me far too vulnerable to pressure, and risk exposing my family and friends to the kind of BS that our billionaire and corporate media owners and their journalist shills consider to be part-and-parcel of our “free” press. No. Thank. You. The internet has what it has on me, and I don’t intend becoming famous enough (see Reason Two, above) to move the needle from “who cares, who the hell is he anyway?” to “did he now?!”.
Reason Four is that I just do not want to be endlessly trolled. I have spent a lot of the last 15 years working at not taking things personally, after nearly 35 years living in a society in which people take far too many things far too personally far too often, so I’m not too bothered about that. It’s that I find trolls an unpleasant bore. If you have nothing better to do with your time than sit behind a computer and fling the bile of your diseased mind at anyone who disagrees with you, you don’t deserve my time or energy. So, spirited debate, yes. Trolls, no.
My compromise on my lost political career is this blog. I originally set it up two years ago, but then fell back into venting my spleen on my Facebook feed – Corbyn, Brexit, Corbyn again, Trump – until it occurred to me that lots of my lovely friends who can’t stand politics were probably turning off my feed, and I don’t blame them. At times I bored myself.
So now my Facebook feed is for puppies and kittens doing fun things, amazing technology, awesome art, funny clips from YouTube, anime reviews (another writing passion of mine – see www.animationforadults.com) and occasional food, holiday and party selfies.
And the bulk of the politics will come here. Occasional armchair politicking. Unfettered. Leftfield. Sometimes raw. Hopefully interesting.
And fully troll-accessible.
Come and get me.