Ignoring What’s Around Us is Not the Ideal Way to Work

They call it conference season as though it’s something that everybody experiences like other seasons but it’s more like a conference cocoon. Politicians, party members, journalists and lobbyists all hemmed into the one ‘secure zone’ around a conference centre as the people of Liverpool, Manchester and then Birmingham carried on their daily lives around us.

I left the Conservative conference and read that it was “dominated” by the child benefit announcement. Try telling that to the people attending vigorous debates on health and the NHS; or those on climate change, or international aid, or transport, or foreign trade. There are literally hundreds of debates at each party conference with virtually every issue being covered.

Party conferences are a bubble that you come out of to find an outside world that has a very different conception of “what is happening” inside. Additionally, the people in the ‘inside’ are different; they are the extreme. Party members, single issue campaigners, journalists, and full time politicians are all at the ‘extreme’ in terms of how much politics takes over their life. And then we put them all in the place!!!

They attend breakfast meetings together, a debate at lunchtime, a roundtable discussion in the afternoon, a reception with speeches in the evening and then drink together in the same bar talking about politics. It strikes me that this might be what it is like for MPs most of the time – politics taking over their whole life.

It is a surreal existence and one that I don’t think is very healthy. I instinctively needed an escape so found myself seeing some Biennial art installations/exhibits in Liverpool; visiting the Lowry and Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, and visiting a remembrance shrine in Birmingham and meeting a mate for a pint in his local. Even at the conferences I found myself going to debates on international aid and environmentalism.

Was I wrong to do this? Should I have spent every minute pressing the case of carers, which is my responsibility and duty? Some will say yes, which I understand. But, I think the variety of experience is enriching and has value in itself.

If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t know that ensuring transparency of how national funds are spent locally increased the amount of aid spent for what it was intended from 20% to 84% in Uganda (rings bells regarding Carers’ Strategy monies). Or that domestic fuel bills could rise significantly over the decade because it costs twice as much to build a coal power station that captures emissions to one that doesn’t and we will only build these the ‘clean’ ones in future (will the winter fuel payment become ever more necessary?). Or that my mate is working on developing a drug which increases the ability of Parkinson’s to control their movements and general motor functions.

We lose something by ignoring all that is around us, and whilst I am very fortunate to experience what is around me, I am not sure MPs are.

The next few blogs will tell you a bit more of what actually happened rather than my musings on the lives of MPs.

Take care


October 7, 2010 - Posted by | Budget, Carers Strategy, David Cameron, Education, Equality Bill, Health, Individual Budgets, Law | , , , , , , ,


  1. I would argue that we are all more effective if we have a ‘big picture’ view of the world (and if we are happy and well adjusted, which isn’t usually something we achieve by doing nothing but working), so I’d rigorously defend your right to look at art, attend other discussions and meet up with your friends!

    And as you have noted, when working for this particular cause any number of broader issues have relevance.

    Comment by exilednzer | October 7, 2010 | Reply

  2. Some years ago I did an Access Course and found that the various topics all provided useful information for the others: my marks were consistently high because of taking the wider view. Sometimes blinkers lead to the sidelines.

    Comment by charles47 | October 8, 2010 | Reply

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