I have been wondering for a while how much of a role geographical accident plays in politics.
When I first decided to get involved with politics a few years back I chose the Liberal Democrats because they were the party that most closely matched my views. In my local area, the party did not have any council seats but there are a small group of very dedicated and experienced local members and campaigners who have fought a number of local and national elections with alacrity since I joined.
The situation, though, has got me thinking about how political careers are nurtured and developed. Through my blogging and tweeting I have got to know a lot of activists from across the country from lots of different parties. Some of them have gone from being activists to councillors and in a few cases MPs or MEPs. Some of those councillors will doubtless use that valuable experience as a springboard to further political ambitions later.
For my part I fought a council by-election here in 2010 and despite putting lots of effort into it I lost very heavily to the Conservatives (I blogged about my experiences here). In this area they are very strong. I have no complaints however, they fought very well and won fair and square. I also stood in the local election this year and again lost heavily.
Realistically, it would be very difficult for me to win a council seat here. That’s not to say impossible of course, with enough time and dedication this party has proved repeatedly that even the most difficult of areas can be cracked. But at the moment I do not have the amount of time available that would take in this area.
But if I happened to live in an area where my party was a lot stronger, by now I may already have been elected and be getting good political experience under my belt representing people and helping to improve their lives.
One day I may have more time to be able to devote to this, but for now, where I live it is unlikely to happen. It makes me wonder how many other people like me would like to get involved in representative politics but because of geographical accident and their political persuasion (e.g. Conservatives in parts of the north, Labour in parts of the South West) it is unlikely to happen.