It's funny really, in that I've been a Party member for more than thirty-five years now - I joined the then Union of Liberal Students in 1984 - and always had a role of some kind, even when I was busy doing other things. It would be fair to say that what I've done has seldom been glamorous, and certainly not front of house.
But, where constitutions have needed to be applied, or elections run, I've generally turned up sooner or later. For, despite my rather forlorn protests that I'd like to be more engaged with the "idea stuff", I also recognise that a decent, competent bureaucrat is a useful commodity in a political party. Note the use of the word "useful", as opposed to "valued".
There has always been a job to do, or a committee to manage but, suddenly, that appeared to be coming to an end. Yes, I've got a couple of Returning Officer gigs to finish off, a co-option for the Young Liberals and a Chair election for the Parliamentary Candidates Association (and there's an irony given my history with them...), but they are coming to an end and I'm not expecting to continue in either post.
Indeed, the only formal position left in my portfolio was that of the East of England member of the Appeals Panel for England. I was appointed to the latter position five years ago and, whilst it can be a bit stressful, someone who has been a Regional Secretary in two Regions and a senior Returning Officer, combined with relevant professional skills, is pretty well suited to the task.
But it is perhaps typical of the value that the Party places on administrative skills that, having notified my Regional Party on 30 November that my term would be up shortly, I had heard nothing in response... until today, that is, when I received a telephone call suggesting that, if I was willing to continue, this would be arranged. Now, given my remoteness from Regional Party politics, how the constitutional niceties are handled is not something I would know much about. I assume that the Regional Executive will have a say and that, if there are any fundamental objections, someone will tell me. Mind you, if there are, that’s probably fine, after all, any benefits I receive from holding the position are hard to see.
And so, I think, I continue my supporting role in a little-known corner of the organisational complex that is the administration of a political party. You’ll barely notice that I’m there...