Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in review: a tale of what wasn't to be... and where we were going to be...

Released from the role of First Husband, things were going to be a bit quieter, yes? Well, no, not really. Freed from her Presidential responsibilities, Ros ran through the gears as my campaign manager, as I sought to win Stowupland ward from the evil Tories.

We'd been leafleting with increasing enthusiasm, and it was soon time to put a bureaucrat on the doorstep. And much to my surprise, I began to rather enjoy myself, uncovering a latent liberal vote dating back to the post-war years. The locals were (mostly) friendly, and I began to suspect that I might have an outside chance.

Sadly, the combination of increased turnout stemming from the AV referendum - they tended not to vote Lib Dem - and a Green candidate who attracted 15% of the vote without actually campaigning was enough to deny me by 91 votes. As Ros said, if I could achieve a 12% swing under such circumstances, I could have reasonably expected to have won in any other year.

There was no time for disappointment though, as Europe awaited. Ros and I had been elected on to the Council of the European Liberal Democrats (ELDR), and our first outing was to Dresden. I freely admit that it didn't sound tremendously enticing but we discovered that Saxony was a pretty corner of Germany, and with pork and beer as key staples, the cuisine suited us too. So much so indeed, that we went back.

Ah yes, travel. I got to the Caribbean for the first time, to Jamaica. I wasn't entirely convinced, as it seems fundamentally wrong that most of the profit goes offshore, leaving the locals to do the lifting and carrying for little pay. Perhaps I need to go somewhere else...

We had liked Dresden so much that we went back for a holiday, combining it with Prague as a two-centre trip. The sun shone, the food (and the beer) were marvellous, and we discovered a whole new part of the world to intrigue Ros.

For we had discovered a degree of freedom. When Ros and I first met, the campaign for the Presidency was warming up, and with a year and a half of campaigning, followed by two years of the Presidency and another four months of a District Council campaign, we hadn't actually had a lot of 'us time'. And we were enjoying it too.

Our last trip was to Palermo for more ELDR business. It can seem a bit cliquey from the outside, as a lot of our delegates attend the annual Congress year after year. Undoubtedly, the cost is a factor, but the fact that it is a little known facet of the Party's activity doesn't help. I rather enjoy it all, as the way of doing politics is gentler, more collegiate. And despite having fought a campaign as the candidate and not just a supporter, I still don't like retail politics.

Life as a parish councillor has continued to take up more of my time. As the parish council's 'envoy to everywhere else' I discovered a thicket of committees, councils and other bodies sufficient to fascinate a bureaucrat. And it is all genuinely fascinating for a transplanted boy from the city.

And with that, I must away, as it's New Year in just over five hours. You see, we're in India, visiting family, catching some sunshine and doing some shopping. It's warm, the rupee is on its knees, and my family are their usual, gloriously bonkers, self. It's good to be home...
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