Its not a great week to be out knocking on doors as an aspiring small-time politician. People just don't want to know. MPs of all parties have done fantastic damage to not only to politics but also to the social fabric.
The scandals of the week have given documentary, indeed granular, proof of the grasping, maximising nature of many of our politicians. And to all the curmudgeons who say `They're only in it for themselves', well the proof is there now for all to see.
On the doorstep, all you can do is say you agree and tell them what a nightmare it is at local level where we don't get paid etc. A lot of people tell me they are not going to vote, as a protest. Others, even committed voters, just don't know what to do next. This has, flummoxed them.
And this is perhaps the most worrying aspect to all this. The cynics were always there, a small minority. Most people in this country recognise the need for politics, they might not engage that much but their tacit consent is key to our system working. If it is withdrawn, we're all in trouble.
All of this opens door not only to mass disengagement but also the political fringe. I suspect the BNP will benefit in many areas because of this.
What also interests me is the way nearly all MPs - the better people as well - all pretty much got what they could. Obviously this is so much the norm in Westminster that people soon lose any inhibition once elected. I wondered to myself what my claim would have looked like were I an MP for, say, Bury St Edmunds. Would I have a second home? Might I have used all the available means to furnish it without dipping into my own pocket. Could I have resisted the temptation to realise capital gains when I finally sold it?
I would like to be able to say No, No and No to all of these questions. But I am not sure it would always be quite so straightforward. While the moralist within me would want to resist, the human in me would ask futher questions: If all my peers claim for these things, wny shouldn't I? Is it within the rules, after all, to claim things which are incurred in setting oneself up as an MP who has to, effectively, live in two places? And, at the end of the day, I may not be an MP forever and my career prospects have already ben pretty shredded by getting into politics all those years ago.....
I think all of this is, in the wider context, pretty weak. But I can see how many MPs, otherwise pretty OK people, will have got to where they are now.
Anyway, my campaign is going well I think. I have a great team ranging in age from 22 to 82. What I enjoy is the sense that we're in it together and everyone is there because they want to be. It reminds me in many ways of the early Speakining Up. And, yes, I have having a lot of fun.