I’ve just been sitting watching Newsnight, while wrapping up the last of Baby Boudica The Elder’s birthday presents for tomorrow. As a family we’ve come a long way in the very nearly 8 years since he was born. I don’t think parenthood has turned out to be the way we thought it would, but then I don’t suppose it ever does. We were so ridiculously unprepared for the high maintenance small person that arrived, but have somehow coped through all the trials and tribulations and always come out fighting.
We never really know what’s around the corner,
so sometimes it’s just best to keep the foot on the gas and see where this crazy ride ends up.
Talking of crazy rides, one of the Newsnight topics tonight was a debate about what has become known as ‘Harriet’s Chariot’ or the pink battle bus. Labour’s attempt to engage with the female voter. Because clearly we’re all attracted to pink like bee’s round a honeypot, it’s futile to resist. You have breasts, therefore you like pink. Obvious really
The truth of the matter is, it doesn’t really matter what colour the bus is, engaging more female voters has got to be a good thing. My Grandmother went to great lengths to install in her girls that we must vote. Women died to get us the vote and we mustn’t waste it. For so long we didn’t have a voice, to not use it now we have it, would be churlish. Sadly, not everyone thinks the same.
I’ve been out and about a lot recently and several women have told me they don’t vote as they never have done, they don’t understand politics and it doesn’t really affect them anyway, it’s something men are interested in. I’ve found my jaw doesn’t hit the floor now quite as much as it did the first couple of times I heard this.
So, Newsnight tell us the Tory’s have a problem with Mums, Mum’s either don’t vote or they vote Labour. They had a nice little graph to illustrate this, I can’t remember the figures but they weren’t great. Politics has a huge image problem for women; for a start most politicians are men and secondly, when you see them in the House of Commons they behave like children, indulging in behaviour the rest of us wouldn’t tolerate in our 5 year old’s, who thankfully haven’t got a say about running the country yet.
It’s off putting to say the least. Women need to be engaged, to realise that their voice is very important. Politics affects almost every area of their lives and some don’t really seem to grasp that. Too often I’ve heard “They’re not like us, they’re not normal people” and maybe that’s part of the trouble too.
So, why have I been out and about a lot recently?
Because this “normal” person decided that instead of sitting around moaning and whining, saying that “someone ought to do something about that” and “how come there aren’t any normal people in politics” and writing ranty blogs to try and change the world, that I would get up and do something about it.
I came to the conclusion that if you really want to change things, you have to do it from the inside.
Just banging on the window isn’t enough, you have to be in the room.
So way back last March, I applied to stand as a Borough Councillor for the Conservatives. Yes, anyone who has read the previous ranty posts that have originated on my keyboard, will know that I have had issues with them. I was brought up a Conservative but wasn’t entirely sure whether that was where I should be staying. I can’t say I agree with all of their policies, and was in fact brutally honest about that at the interview. Which incidentally, was about the scariest thing I’ve ever done: A 15 minute selection interview in front of a panel of 8, including local party Chairman and the Leader of the Council.
I can’t have fluffed it up too badly (or as Mr Boudica puts it “they must be desperate”), as I have a ward allocated and have less than 3 months to persuade the people of my ward that they should be voting for me – The interfering, gobby one who is unlikely to be silenced easily once she’s got a bee in her bonnet. Apparently that’s seen as a positive! It’s currently a Conservative held ward, the present councillor is retiring and has been a great help and source of knowledge. I’d hate to lose the seat (how embarrassing would that be?) so I’m out every Saturday talking to voters.
So my first foray into politics has led me on the campaign trail, and if I’m totally honest, I absolutely love it. Getting out talking to people, finding out what they really want in their local area, helping out where I can. It may not be earth shattering, it might not change the world, but baby steps people, give me time. At the moment, if I can help one person out, make them think their voice really does matter amongst all the noise of everyone else, then that’s great, I’ll settle for that.
It’s also scary as hell. Everything has to be done in the right way, there’s paperwork to do, literature to write and photographs to be taken. It’s a steep learning curve but with the support of the local party, anything is possible. They’ve been incredibly supportive of the new girl, even with all her insane questions and apparent lack of confidence in just about everything.
So watch this space really. Who knows what the future will hold, today the Borough, tomorrow the world?