Sunday, October 3, 2010

Why this, wny now?

People often ask me if I am planning a political career, especially since I got elected as a Councillor. A good few people seem to think I might be good at it, whatever that means. As well as being in the wrong party in the wrong area of the country, I think the answer is no, certainly for my 40s. I am wedded to Suffolk, to fatherhood and to trying to stay married. None of these things seem very easy if you're in full-time politics.

But it's not just that. Most of you reading this will, at some level, be following a cause or calling. I have done that for most of my adult life, at first with Speaking Up and now with my new business, Stepping Out.

For although Stepping Out is my venture, and I hope it makes me money (it is losing me enough at the moment!) it is also an expression of my political purpose. Not for a `smaller state' but of public services provided by vibrant, business-like social enterprises which are are part of our civil society and meshed into our social fabric rather than run by the City, Whitehall or the local state.

Although the left think they have the field to themselves, idealists come in all shapes and I have always been one of them. And Stepping Out is as much about my mission and values as Speaking Up ever was.

Now if, like us, you have a drive to change something there are three possible options. The first is that you join an organisation already on the case. The second is that you enter politics and take it up that way. The third is that you take action and move a very small part of the mountain, hoping it will encourage others to join in.

The truth about politics and politicians is that most of them fail. They achieve very little, nearly always. Even Blair, when you remember he had 13 years. By going into politics, assuming I could ever get elected, I would, in effect be trading a strong for a weak chance of making an impact.

And joining an organisation? I don't see many orgs currently competing this space, not at a serious level yet - though I can see troops massing in the distance. I am, by temperament, a starter not a joiner and, if I am honest, not the even the best CEO in my village, never mind the sector as a whole. While I have my talents, being a big-time CEO isn't one of them.

Is this it then - council forever? No and who knows what will happen later, but I think I know now why I am setting up this new venture rather than throwing in my lot with politics - or joining an organisation.

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