In my experience, politicians aren't always very skilled at thanking others. It's a skill that is still greatly valued, and perhaps even more so given the rise of the professional political classes who tend to rise through political parties and into government without trace or interaction with the outside world these days.
As a faceless bureaucrat, I don't expect a great deal of gratitude, especially working for HM Revenue and Customs as I do by day, and as a political administrator by night. That should never become an excuse for becoming thoughtless or callous though.
So I thought I should take this opportunity to pay tribute to Sally Burnell, the Political Assistant to the Liberal Democrat group on Southwark Council, who announced her departure last week to go and work with a worthy and socially valued charity.
As a rookie member of the Council Group (Local Party Chairs are awarded that status in Southwark), and as someone who had never paid much attention to the inner workings of Southwark Council until that point, Sally was a welcome support, and made me feel that I wasn't entirely out of place. Her briefing documents have enabled me to contribute to debates in a meaningful and informed way, to the extent where the Group leadership occasionally seek my views on matters where I might have useful input (not what I would have predicted eighteen months ago).
There have been some less than enjoyable moments for her, the vitriolic and wildly inaccurate attacks from the Darbyshires, for example, and we aren't the easiest bunch of people to work with. But she has maintained a cheery visage throughout, and her talents will be missed. On the other hand, she'll still be about the place and I'm sure that her knowledge and expertise will be called upon from time to time.
So, thank you Sally, it's been a blast...