So, what now for me?

This is a personal post – I might write a political one in the future some time.

So, I lost my seat on Nottingham Council on Thursday night, and along with it all my income. Perhaps foolishly, my only job was being a full-time councillor, with extra bits of income from responsibilities and from working with the Fire Authority as well. All of that goes, and I’ve had my last pay-slip.

For about the last six months, I have been thinking that defeat was a distinct possibility at these elections – my ward colleague was more optimistic, and in all the arguments we’ve had over the years, it’s a shame that it’s on this one I was proven right.

So with my pessimism in mind, I had half a plan for defeat – I have savings that will sustain me for a while, so in the immediate weeks I plan a holiday. I have a few things that need sorting out – election expense returns loom large for example – then I will take the tent and the car and have a few weeks away. I don’t suppose it will be the epic 6-week tour of France I did in 2005, but I’m thinking maybe… Scotland?

But after the break is the more serious task of working out what my life is for. I had pretty much decided that if I had been re-elected this time it would have been my last. I’ve spent a quarter of my life on Nottingham City Council and that is about enough. I’ve also spent a decade in politics – working for Nick Clegg when he was MEP, then jobs with two MPs and the regional party, followed by a spell in Chesterfield and all that time as a councillor. And I’ve had enough now. I’m stepping down from frontline politics – and when I say that, unlike David Miliband, I don’t mean I want to be an MP.

For the first time in years, not only am I not an elected official, I don’t think I hold any elected office in the party either, unless maybe you count conference rep. Not that I shall be able to afford to go to party conferences for a while.

I must be one of very few people ever to have drifted into politics and enjoyed the water once I got there. It’s much more usual for there to be battles and ambition and struggle, while for me I drifted into Nick Clegg’s office and drifted into elected office as a councillor in 2003, half on the back of Labour’s unpopularity around the Iraq war. When I left school, I thought I wanted to be in arts admin or a writer, or something vague like that. Spending 10 years as a politician was not the plan!

But having done that, and now wanting a change, the world is my oyster. I could do almost anything, and I find myself looking around at the jobs other people have and thinking is that something I could bear to do for the rest of my life? Barman? Waiter? Window cleaner? Shill for some architect and use my planning knowledge?

Part of me wants meaningful work; part of me just wants to find a simple 9-5 that won’t encroach much on my evenings and weekends.

In all my non-political jobs, I have struggled to find work that is interesting enough or varied enough – I’m not good with routine. Being a councillor is a great thing for variety – yes there are some predictable annual events – budget, campaigning, the like. But no two days are really alike.


9 comments on “So, what now for me?

  1. Mum says:

    Hmm! ” A simple 9-5″ indeed! Your timekeeping (ie getting up in the morning!!) will have to improve, I suspect! 😦

  2. Serena says:

    Enjoy your break and good luck finding something interesting when you get back!

  3. Jennie says:

    If you want to avoid routine, bar work is great. If you want an income you can live off, not so great.

  4. BaldJohn says:

    Sorry to hear you lost your seat. Must be quite a wrench.

    Best of luck with wherever your life takes you in the future. Which should probably include a pint or two on Shell Island at some point 🙂

  5. neil h says:

    Good luck for the future, in whatever you turn your hand to next!

  6. Jane says:

    I’m sorry you lost your seat because it sounded as if you did a good job as a councillor. But if you were planning to stop anyway – well, How Exciting! Look forward to lots more blog posts about the next phase in your working life 🙂

  7. Dr_Nick says:

    How do you DECIDE what to do next? It was hard enough the first time round (though admittedly not for you) and we’re still living with that mistake!

    Best of luck though, bruv. And we look forward to hearing all about it.

    It’s now a little ironic that my colleagues’ impression of your recent television ‘success’ was “don’t give up the day job”?


  8. Sarah Swindell says:

    Sorry to hear you didn’t get re-elected. I could see you working in IT (not that I’m calling you a geek!) or being a radio presenter.
    Would you be offended if I treated you and P to a curry at Rajah’s?

  9. […] out of store cupboard ingredients, and making good use out of a bag of frozen cherries. I’d lost my seat a few days before, and wrote some helpful tips for successors after […]

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