JackP for MEP?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 20:35 | Filed in Life, Politics, The Pickards

I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve talked myself into a corner on this one. Am I now morally obliged to stand as an MEP? Read on…

One of my most frequent complaints about the government of the country is the fact that people are not so much disillusioned with politics, they are disillusioned with party politics. Have I mentioned stuff along these lines before? It would appear that I have…

actually look to see what your prospective electoral candidates stand for: what they would support or protest against, instead of just voting that party ticket once more…The Pickards: quis custodiet ipsos custodes

It will no doubt be attended by the standard media types, the standard politicos and so on. Precisely the sort of thing I generally complain about — that “ordinary people” are excluded and disenfranchised because they are kept out of the loop, never given a chance to see what is actually going onThePickards: G20 — Bloggers to step up to the plate?

…for me, one of the biggest problems facing our democracy is apathy. Voter turnouts are down because voters are increasingly sick of the ‘party machines’ (or at least ’tis my belief).ThePickards: Politico WIN and Politico FAIL

…what about people like myself who have political beliefs but do not wish to formally affiliate myself with any party? (I’d rather vote for the specific person I believe is most likely to effectively represent me than vote for a party ticket)Politico Web 1.0

Right, so I may have mentioned it, yes?

Now under most circumstances, there’s not actually anything wrong with mentioning this sort of thing, is there. After all, ordinary people without any formal political affiliation have no opportunity to ever take part in the political machine, do they? It would just be a waste of my time, and money, and effort, to think anything else, as well as being enormously egotistical.

Only I saw this–

Independent parliamentary candidates are to be chosen by a mobile phone vote, as part of a campaign aimed at ending political parties’ dominance.

The Jury Team organisation is promising a “new dawn”, by backing would-be MPs and MEPs with no party affiliation.

BBC News: Txt vote plan for independent MPs

– and I thought, why, that’s precisely the sort of thing we need. The opportunity for ordinary people, representing their community, rather than a faceless party machine. That’s precisely how I believe politics in this country should evolve. What an absolutely fantastic idea. I wonder who’s standing near me…

So I checked, and found this…

North East England will elect 3 MEPs to the European Parliament

Below is a current list of the people who have signed up to become a Jury Team candidate in your region and their 80 word description of themselves.


Jury Team: North East Candidates

What, no-one?

And there, my dear readers, is my problem. When someone is offering precisely the sort of political engagement I have been hoping for; the opportunity for independent people, representing their community, supported by a not-for-profit organisation hoping to open up democracy, this is something that I really ought to support. Only there doesn’t appear to be anyone actually taking part round here.

Which brings me to my moral dilemma. Am I now morally obliged to get off my backside and stand as a candidate, since this is precisely what I’ve been asking for and it appears no-one else wants to do it? To put my money where I’ve repeatedly put my mouth? Or should I just keep my head ducked down out of the firing line? Is the whole thing just a bloody waste of time, or is it an opportunity that the electorate of this country can’t afford to miss?

What do you, my dear readers think? This isn’t a hypothetical question, by the way, I really would welcome feedback from everyone on this one…

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

16 Comments to JackP for MEP?

  1. paul canning says:

    March 17th, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Er, yeah. Definitely want you as a representative.

    Why not? Exactly?

  2. JackP says:

    March 17th, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Paul, that’s the problem. I can’t come up with any good reasons why not, yet I am sure there must be plenty — such as the fact that I have absolutely no idea what it entails, I have no experience of doing that sort of thing, there must be plenty of people out there more capable of doing it than me, and so on.

    But if none of them want to do it, and it’s the sort of thing that I’ve said we should have in this country, then I do kind of feel I’m obliged to put my money where my mouth is to some extent.

    That’s what I was rather hoping everyone else would come up with — reasons why I should, and reasons why I shouldn’t

  3. The Goldfish says:

    March 17th, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    If you would like to do it, then I’d definitely, definitely think about this very seriously. If the job doesn’t actually appeal to you, then definitely, definitely don’t. You couldn’t really do this because of some sense of moral obligation – I moan about politicians but I really couldn’t do it, apart from prohibitive ill health, I really don’t think I have the aptitude.

    However, in general, part of the problem of UK politics is that the wrong kind of people do it, people who are attracted to it tend to be extremely ambitious, enjoy the party tribalism and point-scoring, they also tend to be connected to that world from the start and thus ready-conditioned to be extremely cynical and unimaginative. And it doesn’t have to be like that – I believe it isn’t nearly so bad in other countries in Europe.

    In terms of philosophical outlook, regardless of the nitty-gritty of your politics, I reckon you would be excellent; you are concerned about the quality of people’s lives as opposed to a lot of abstract nonsense, you are a natural problem-solver, a genuine egalitarian and I get the impression you actually dislike conflict – at least, all that tit-for-tat stuff. You’re also still young and pretty, which should help your electability. ;-)

    Only downside is your lads are still rather wee and I imagine being an MEP demands a great amount of toing and froing.

  4. Cole Henley says:

    March 17th, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    If I were in the vicinity you’d have my vote.

    Can’t really offer much more than that and having never put a face to the name can only go on what come across on blog/twitter – forthright with comment but always well-rounded, considered and rooted in common sense and reason. Wish could be said for everyone else in the political domain ;)

  5. Cole Henley says:

    March 17th, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Just to chip in (again) I think moral obligation is a perfectly good reason for doing the job, although I think duty is a much better word than obligation (the former implies you doing it because you think it is right, the latter that other people think it is right).

    My gran was a councillor for most of her adult life and I don’t think it ever made her happy. She was born in Germany and because her dad was a raving Commy she spent most of her childhood fleeing across Europe from Hitler before eventually finding sanctuary in England (her father had to flee to the USA with the rest of her family).

    Standing up for what she believed in was of crucial importance to her and she was determined to fight for the rights of others to be able to practice their beliefs in a society that valued human life and the rights of it population without fear of reprisals or discrimination.

    I like to think she made a great difference to the community and people she served and at least she got a nice shiny statue erected in her memory for her efforts ;)

    [JackP: sorry Cole, this got mis-identified as spam for some reason. Now approved...]

  6. G says:

    March 17th, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Jack, you have to LOVE travel.

    And LOVE Sabena – sorry, Brussels Airlines.

    And expect to lose your bags a lot.

    Brussels Den Haag and Strasburg ain’t bad. You’ll get lots of airmiles you don’t want to take and flying will become a chore rather than something you do on your jollies.

    I know. 6 years of working on EC contracts gets you an intimate knowledge of Schipol Airport and Brussels eateries.

    All I can advise is that if your closet is skeleton-less….why not?

  7. paul canning says:

    March 18th, 2009 at 1:03 am

    “young and pretty”

    hur, hur. I think it’s more about coming across as genuine and straight-forward – having observed some of this

    “if your closet is skeleton-less….why not?”

    I think it is.. ?

    Alistair Campbell has good advice. Ok, it’s for Peggy Mitchell but whatever.

    Basically, if you want it you have to want to win. + have a plan etc. Because of who you are and what you stand for. Otherwise don’t.

  8. Holly says:

    March 18th, 2009 at 11:03 am

    Go for it – I tend to do this and then find reasons to regret my actions afterwards. Seriously though, if you feel you may find the job interesting, why not? Throwing your hat into the ring doesn’t necessarily mean that you will win, but if the possibility that you might win doesn’t scare the hell out of you, then I say, “Vote Pickard!”

  9. Ray Turner says:

    March 18th, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    I know we broadly share the dilemma, as we’ve been corresponding on the Jury Team website.

    Blogging/commenting is an important role in a democracy. It doesn’t necessarily oblige you to stand yourself. We’re not in a corner really, just under a bit of pressure to define ourselves. We’re at a turning point in our political activities.

    But I think the really important thing is to help get Jury Team off the ground if we ever want Westminster to be any better.

    Jury Team is much more credible if they’ve got 700 people in the primaries, rather than 15. That’s what’s really driving me here, the longer term and making things better. I’m definitely not thinking about it from the point of view of what’s in it for me. The thought of what’s in it for me, potentially interviews with Paxo on Newsnight etc, commuting to Brussels/Stasbourg etc. is a bit of a nightmare actually. But don’t forget, it’s a competition/election. JuryTeam candidates might not actually win any seats in June…

    So I’m in the same corner as you, but increasingly thinking that I’m going to have to bite the bullet. Particularly if I want to carry on as a Blogger. Have a bit more credibility then…

    Comments of support, or otherwise, on my blog would help me make the decision.

  10. mark says:

    March 18th, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    give it a go – you’ve got nowt to lose (no-one thinks highly of politicians anyway, wether failed or successful). at least make some enquiries as to what the job entails.
    if your main gripe is apathy then how would you feel if you let the opportunity go knowing you could have at least tried?
    i don’t vote, not because i can’t be bothered but i just don’t think any of them are worth my vote as they do what they are told by their party whips, not by the electorate.
    i’d vote for you.
    anyone else interested in starting a vote-for-jack campaign……..?

  11. JackP says:

    March 18th, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Comment received elsewhere, slightly redacted to remove other people’s details:

    Whilst I understand your dilemma- knowing what I know about politics I think it would be a mistake . You would be away from home an awful lot and the kids would miss you terribly. Most MEPs I have had contact with can’t wait to get an MPs position back home because of the problems of working away. Also I think you would be very frustrated with the party politics you would encounter even in Brussels

    However, I’m coming round to thinking that I may feel obliged to put my name forward if there isn’t someone else I would wholeheartedly support. I think Jury Team is a great idea, and I think it needs some candidates to select from.

    There’s a big gap between “standing as a jury team prospective candidate”, “being the jury team official candidate” and “being elected as an MEP”, and I think, at the very least, Jury Team is possibly too good an idea not to show my support for.

  12. John Pickard says:

    March 19th, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Hello Jack,
    I just happened to look at your blog for the first time in ages. I’m afraid I don’t agree with your take on political parties. They are a fact of life and in a society are an inevitable fact of life. Whether it’s in dozens or millions, people will always form associations of one kind or another to seek common goals. It’s absolutely true, as you say, that people are disillusioned with the political parties as they are now but that does not mean that parties as such have no role or place or that people wouldn’t find a role or a place for parties. What is likely to happen is that the pressure of opinion and activism (where and when it manifests itself) will change the parties.
    There are other considerations, of course. Society is dominated by extremely powerful vested interests, even more powerful that the political parties. It is utopian to imagine that an individual can ‘take on’ these vested interests and succeed. You or any individual would simply run yourself into the ground, ruin your health and bankrupt yourself if you tried to stand as an individual. To have even the slightest chance of succeeding you would need to have a group of supporters, including some fund-raisers, canvassers, leafleters, and so on…in other words… a party. Get involved in one of the political parties and try to change it. If you don’t want to do that, start your own political party. But don’t imagine you can have anything other than a tiny, short term, ephemeral effect as an individual. My preferred option…take the party you’ve got (in my case Labour) and help to turn it into the party we need (a socialist party).

  13. John Pickard says:

    March 19th, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Sorry Jack, a PS:
    On the Jury Team website it says “By joining the Jury Team, you are becoming part of a political party like no other.” Isn’t that what was said by Kilroy Silk? And the founders of the UKIP? And Arthur Scargill, forming his Socialist Labour Party…etc. What if there were more than one volunteer? What party structures are in place to organise a fair election? What if more than one person insisted on being the ‘Jury Team’ candidate? Which one would get the ‘nod’?…and why? What policies would be deemed ‘official’ and what policies ‘not official’? What if an out and out racist wanted to stand? What if the Jury team candidate was a Trotskyist in one euro-consituency and a right wing Tory in the next one? (All non-party “individuals” of course!). You just end up with a new party, with all the personality and policy clashes you get in other parties. Wouldn’t that cheese people off? Face it, politics is a messy business. There’s argument, disagreement, debate and you’re often in a minority. But that’s what we have to do.

  14. JackP says:

    March 20th, 2009 at 12:07 am

    John, er.. Dad,
    some of those questions can be answered by the Jury Team site. The party is about independents. You could get a right-winger or a left-winger. Candidates are chosen by phone vote where there are more candidates than ‘places to stand’.

    Therefore the whole ‘policies’ issue is virtually irrelevant: each individual stands for what they believe in. Effectively, it’s a bunch of independents, supported by the Jury Team process. Although the out-and-out racist wouldn’t be allowed to stand, based on the JT discrimination policies. Although, as you’ll see in a few days, I would defend the right of out-and-out racists to stand, irrespective of how much I would personally disagree with them.

    I have to say that I don’t believe the ‘party’ system is working. It is alienating people, as we are increasingly being represented by professional, career politicians. That doesn’t work for me. However, I think it’s also inappropriate to believe anyone standing would need to ‘take on’ any vested interests. What I would want a candidate to do would be to vote according to their beliefs — beliefs which I would expect them to have made clear beforehand. That’s all I’m asking for.

    Someone has to do something. Provided Jury Team do not demand a ‘party line’ in any way, shape or form, I believe this is a good idea. Being prepared to take on the job myself is a different matter entirely, and one that I’m not sure that I actually want to do.

    However, it would be fair to say that you were willing to take action, to put up with the associated shit, in order to stand for your political beliefs. Why? I presume you felt a moral obligation. Why should I then not feel the same, even if my political beliefs differ?

  15. Matt says:

    March 20th, 2009 at 12:16 am

    JP – If you want backing you have mine. I do not always agree with your politics but I believe you would stand with more honesty and integrity than the troughing bastards we have in power now. Stand on a ticket of restoring individual freedom and resposibility and I woud fancy your chances as I think we are all sick of being dictated to.

  16. Matt says:

    March 20th, 2009 at 12:35 am

    @ John I hear excatly what you are saying but in general career politicians are a stain on society. Take the current front bench, a bunch of no talents who have never succeeded anywhere bar elections. The oposition are no better. We do need a fresh set of ideas, the fact that every 8-12 years the country switches between one set of corrupt incompitants and another; who then spend that time feathering their nests to the detriment of the rest of us.

    We agree on the socialist part, as soon as I meet any socialist who wants me and my own to do as well as they and thier own I will back them 100%. As example Lord (haha) Kinnock that well known socailist who made sure his childeren got straight onto the bandwagon without any family assistance…

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