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Why do they do it?

I owe a small debt to Richard Wilson, the small minded ill-informed Labour candidate for Guildford. He’s helped form a question that has puzzled me for a while; why do they do it?

Richard’s web biography tells us about who he is, and tells us what he wants us to know about him. We know where he is a candidate; but we don’t know why.

Incidentally Richard will probably know, or ought to,  that advertising his membership of the trade union of the bus drivers of the skies, BALPA, is no great endorsement; Norman Tebbit was a busdriver of the skies too. However, Richard wants us to believe he is a community and environmental activist, despite his job, and that these are the things we need to know about his candidacy.

I don’t agree.

I want to know why.

Why is Richard the Labour candidate in a seat Labour can’t win? Not why as in ‘because no-one else wanted it, and no-one else was willing to fund the campaign out of their own pocket while taking a month off work.’ That’s a given.

Why did Richard want to do it? Why would anyone volunteer for such a thankless task?

Now, bear in mind that I wouldn’t even know that Richard exists were it not for the way he has conducted his campaign. We’re all aware of the phenomenon of the paper candidate, the local party volunteer who willingly puts up for council knowing they won’t win. Sometimes they’re people of substance and standing, who greatly increase the Labour vote in their community, while still losing, and sometimes they’re not, but the key feature of a paper candidate is just that; their campaign only exists on paper.

Richard Wilson, on the other hand, is fighting his campaign like a sixth former trying to win the school elections despite being the least attractive and socially skillful person on the slate.

Why is he doing this?

Seriously, someone should be asking him. There again, I think most political candidates should be facing more questions about why they are candidates. It’s a thankless task, with the vast majority of candidates losing, yet still they queue up to do it. Why?

By way of digression, I drove past the Green candidate in a rural Northumberland seat yesterday. They were leafleting, alone, on a beautiful Bank Holiday Monday, in the kind of rural village, full of commuters and second homes for people tired of life in Newcastle, where Green ideas have no traction. Why? Why spend your day adding to the junk mail problem in such a place?

Despite what so many candidates appear to believe, fringe party propaganda does not gain extra traction because there’s an election on; there’s absolutely zero evidence that the bulk of campaigning has any effect other than to allow parties to identify people’s pre-existing voting intentions, yet still fringe candidates queue up to waste precious energy and resources on futile gestures. Why?

One of the weaknesses both of our political system and our media is that mainstream candidates appear to believe that the only way to behave is as one of Fukuyama’s children, believing in the consensus that the great ideological struggles are over, that politics is now a matter of fine dividing lines and finessing debates so that the other candidate looks extreme, or weak, or unsuited to leadership. In such a world, Richard Wilson is acting as if he is contesting the role of opposition leader on Guildford council, wanting to overwhelm the LibDems with vitriol and ad hominem attacks so he can be the leader of the loyal opposition in the council chamber.

Richard may have different motives of course, but one of the rules of Fukuyama’s children is that you must not question their motives. Suggest to one of Fukuyama’s children that their personal narcissism is more important as a driver of their behaviour than ideology or beliefs and you’ll quickly find yourself persona non grata. Just as a nom de plume is one of my tools for containing my own narcissism*, so one has to ask the Richard Wilson’s of this world if they’re aware of their own narcissism, and if it might be  a driver of their behaviour as a candidate.

I’d be more confident of our candidates, and our media if, instead of loaded questions about fine issues of policy that only a wonk can understand or care about, we simply saw interviews with candidates asked simple questions. Sakichi Toyoda’s Five whys technique comes to mind, sometimes knows as five whys and a what.

Why do you want to be a candidate? Repeat the question, with modifications, until you get to the root motivation and then ask ‘What does that tell us about you, and about us?’

If Richard WIlson feels as if he’s being picked on, it’s because I’m not persuaded, on the evidence so far, that I’d like the root motives behind his nasty, small minded scare mongering about sex work, and I know I dont like what I think that tells me about the state of politics in our country,

*In real life, I cannot lay any claim to this blog, so I know that if I write something, it’s not for some fleeting reward, but because the things I write might actually mean something. I never go up to people and say ‘I’m Carter’ as if this blog confers status upon me; it’s just a way of getting ideas out there.


2 comments on “Why do they do it?

  1. elrondmiddleeng
    April 13, 2015

    I see Richard appears to have removed this blog post. The archive of his post was caught by the wayback machine.


    • jemima2013
      April 13, 2015

      great spot and thanks!


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This entry was posted on April 7, 2015 by in Uncategorized.

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