I love my Local Party dearly. They're decent, honourable people who have a deep-rooted desire to serve their local communities and for whom I have huge admiration. They are, if you like, what politics should be about, altruistic, hard-working, unglamorous. They organise jumble sales and garden parties, write Focus leaflets telling residents what they're doing without spin or artifice. They don't even attack their opponents particularly, something that, in my old stomping grounds, was de rigeur.
You might, in an era of instant rebuttal, of highly paid press operations and soundbites, call them rather old-fashioned, almost quaint. And yet, at a time when too many politicians, too much of the media and far too many of the public find it easier to engage in cynical, destructive abuse of anyone and everything that might be described as political, the old-fashioned courtesy of thanking people for their contributions, of giving people the space and time to express themselves, is a beacon of hope in an increasingly unpleasant public sphere. They are, if you like, the authenticity that so many others strive to manufacture.
It is, perhaps, the same reason why I like the House of Lords and European politics where, for the most part, people can disagree yet respect their opponents, where courtesy and good grace prevail over sloganising and abuse, and why I feel increasingly disenchanted by the level of debate, whether it be in the media or even within the Party I have supported for so many years.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't some sort of justification for doing something rash or impulsive - the most impulsive thing I'm likely to do is make myself another bacon sandwich - but I do find myself wondering if it is the aim, intended or otherwise, of some to drive out of politics anyone who is less than entirely tribal, or who harbours doubt about elements, although not the majority, of their chosen Party's policy platform.
It is, perhaps, somewhat odd, given that a political party is, to a great extent, a compromise and that its policies are a compromise acceptable to a majority of those with an opportunity to influence it. And yet there are those who seem to think that everything is either black or white and that anyone who doesn't agree entirely is there for target practice. It is unedifying and part of the process of continuing alienation of ordinary people from the processes and structures that have so much, often unnoticed, influence over their lives. I have to say, I didn't expect it from Liberal Democrats though.
I am, I guess, fortunate, in that my life does not revolve around politics and its works. I have a job which keeps me occupied, a home which I love, and a community which I find intriguing and stimulating. I also have Ros, without whom much of the rest would not have been possible, and a family who care about each other. So, one should count one's blessings sometimes, and I would include Mid Suffolk Liberal Democrats amongst them.