What would put you off becoming a politician?(30 Posts)
Was thinking about the online abuse Diane Abbott has had to endure, and regardless of what you think of her, it made me think that there's no way I'd want to go into politics if that's what I'd have to put up with. Feels like it's yet another way to get women to STFU yet we desperately need more good women in politics, otherwise things will never change.
So wondering if anyone would consider a career in politics and if not, why not?
Working with other politicians would put me off for one thing.
The press intrusion and raking over of your private life, making scandal where there is none and possible affecting young children. Being a target for hate, with the worst case scenario being physically attacked.
I don't have to ability to articulate my thoughts that well and have a rubbish memory for names, faces, dates and pretty much anything, so would be useless at it.
I'd be interested otherwise.
I have a rubbish memory for names, too.
And when I imagine myself in the shoes of Merkel ... the very thought of having to shake the hands of men like Trump, Putin, Erdogan, etc., smiling and pretending that I want to be there ... ugh.
I couldn't do it.
Regional politics I can't do because I'm not good with people, I might otherwise be interested - less lying required at that level.
The money. It's a lot more than I get paid, but for the time they have to put in, the hourly rate is nowhere near enough to tempt me.
Having to watch my mouth and not tell dickheads to fuck off. The scrutiny. The nastiness that women in the public eye always either get or know they'll get soon enough.
On one hand I would love to get into politics. I'm actually surprisingly eloquent when I speak and I am very interested and would like to think passionate about social issues. I've been encouraged to think about politics in the past as apparently I can be quite persuasive in my arguments and I'm fairly confident with public speaking. The only reason I don't is the press intrusion. It's just awful and of course so much worse for women than men. In particular I've done a bit of dancing and modelling in the past and I just know the press would have an absolute field day. Part of me feels I should woman up and own it but the other part thinks I would have to start digging my own grave now as my parents would kill me!!!!
Having to be self-promotional all the time, from getting your name on the ballot sheet onwards.
Fear of the far right
The way Jo Cox's assassination has been forgotten/dismissed so quickly.
I thought seriously about it. But it was the whip in the end. Having to toe the party line when your ethics tell you the opposite.
I've worked fairly close to some and they actually put in very long hours and have to be on the ball all the time. Sure the pay is fairly fantastic, but it's bloody hard work.
The self-promotion, the black and white world view. The abuse women like Ruth Smeeth have had to put up with from violent bigots. The general tabloid hunt for fresh stories you could be subjected to.
Having to live away from my family half the week (unless you have a london/SE constituency and then you're having to do stuff there every night)
Endless being nice to people
Your time never being your own - Loads of evening and weekend stuff.
Having to knock on doors at election time
Yes to being away from your family half a week, then probably working all of the rest of it too even in your constituency.
Alhough as an aside I was randomly thinking the other day about how my husband now works part time from home and so deals with all of the daily kids stuff, and how that also gives me so much more freedom to improve my career and i could do anyhing, even run for parliament. I wouldn't, because i do still actually want to see my kids (and i'd be crap at it) but it did highlight how being in the traditional 'male' role with lots of support at home gives you such a different outlook on life.
The worry about doing things right and remaining ethical in the face of pressure to not be.
My close childhood friend is an MP. I have watched her experiences and it's a thankless job:
- constituents stop her in the street, at school sportsday matches, when she's walking her dog etc and it's always to complain. She is never left alone.
- 80% of the complaints are things that she can do nothing about ("the corner shop doesn't stick the right bread" was one I heard when with her last week!)
- when parliament isn't sitting she is accused of being on holiday, even when working hard in the constituency
- when parliament is sitting she's accused of hot spending time in the constituency
- she travels away from her children a lot
- the pay is crap compared to other professions requiring similar hours. Especially given you have to pay London living expenses. I went into law, I'm no amazing high flyer by I'm paid 1.5x an MP's salary
- unless you are a minister you have v v little scope to make changes on the big issues
You don't necessarily have to pay london living expenses - if your main home is constituency you can claim for accommodation in London. And TBf most if not all of the nights they're in London they can be fed for nothing
The money is not amazing for the type of job it is. I know a number of people who earn more than MPs.
the long hours
the very unsocial hours
having to be 'presentable' every time
the personal attacks
always having to have your wits about you
tbh it sounds very tiring
Abuse, for sure.
Irresponsible journalism. I've been involved in a lot of stuff that's been reported in the press, one way or another (none of it interesting, and I've always been in a strictly back-room role) and the amount of rubbish journalists print even when they're trying to do a fairly dry report on something unexciting and unscandalous is extraordinary. I've also seen what gets printed about some MPs and how harmless things get distorted, and I think if the press decided for whatever reason they were out to get you it would be total, unrelenting hell.
On top of that I agree pay is crap for what it asks of you - stupidly long hours, being permanently "on", living away from your family from Monday morning till Thursday evening.
The main thing for me though is that I'm an introvert and couldn't do it. I'd have to spend my life outside my comfort zone and I'd crash and burn in a year or two.
Yes the "on" thing sets my teeth on edge. Funnily enough one of my friends is a former MP and is also really not one for pressing the flesh, he's glad to be out of it now.
I think the thing that makes it worse for women specifically is it could be a 24 hour day if you let it and I think women are more prone to do that then men. I remember when the stuff about second jobs came out Sarah champion said she was thinking "am I an idiot because I'm here till 10 o clock working every night." Whereas clearly some blokes get their staff to cover everything.
The money is just amazing for those of us struggling along at the national average and below. Being an MP is terribly hard work & I wouldn't do it, but it does seem like a lot of money to me (struggle to pay my mortgage, run a 30 year old car, can't go on holidays, etc).
It's a lot of money but for a lot of hours. My household income is rather less than an MPs salary, but I bet my hourly rate is better. I know some of them are bone idle, but if you're going to do it decently it is a lot of work. I know the likes of Oona King are outliers, but from what she said about her hours she was probably on less than minimum wage.
It's a lot more than I earn. But I know a lot of people who earn more than that, in much less responsible roles.
Getting to the point of persuading a party to back you as a candidate would put me off. Then the campaigning to get elected. Back when our MP retired, the two candidates were out every day around the constituency, listening to potential voters, for 2 solid years. Now elected they are just as busy with more complaints.
I'd love to see two people stand as a job share - one could focus on the constituency and the other on Parliament, but legally be the same job. IIRC there's no impediment to that other than local parties never selecting a pair as 'the' candidate.
Yes, hard work, campaigning to begin with and you'd have to keep your usual job, but try take enough holiday to go canvassing etc. Then the long hours and the travel every weekend, though that's much easier for MPs near London of course.
As others have said, having to be nice to people all the time and never really being off duty. Couldn't have a quiet drink in your local...
Sparty: go into local politics, doubt the press would come after you.
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