This is a post I’ve been mulling over for a while, and to get the context, you should read Probably Not first of all.
It’s 2011, the Euro zone is in crisis, banks regard European governments like an interest free overdraft facility and unemployment is at its highest since 1994 when I graduated. Our politicians don’t have the answers we seek, CO2 emissions rise relentlessly, global temperatures continue to climb and the ice continues to melt.
On the 16th December, nominations close for the European Election list in the North West. We are selecting our two lead candidates for 2014. I was clear in my mind back in 2009 that it would not be me leading the list again, something that I initially found difficult to accept, but grew into. The reasons I gave then still apply now – both my sons will be either at school or nursery, settled and enjoying life here in Liverpool. I had to move around a lot as a child and I don’t think it benefited me. I want to avoid that for my children.
There were three people that I felt could really lead the list next time. I think it is factual to say that two have them have come to a considered position that being a Euro MP is not a job they want to do at this time in their lives. The third has stated clearly to me that they will stand, but only if I refuse to and actually they want me to stand again.
Over the last two years I have been grateful for all the kind words from colleagues who felt I should stand again. I have carefully considered what is being asked of me in standing, both personally and politically, and while it will undoubtedly be very tough indeed on both me and my family, I am going to submit a set of nomination papers. I hope that North West members will vote to nominate me as the lead candidate once again (the “maybe” part of the blog post).
There can be illusions that campaigning is a tough and time consuming job, with no guarantee of success. It is going to take a huge effort to win the first Euro seat for the Greens outside of London and the South East, but we are up to the challenge. While I can’t repeat what I did from 2004 to 2009 (working part time/contracts), I do think that a stronger team of candidates, from 1 to 8 will be the key to success this time round.
Should we win (and we must win a seat this time) I’m under no illusion that I am going to have to make some personal sacrifices to do the best possible job I can for the people of the North West.
I’m writing this as I travel back on a 2 hour 13 minute train from London to Liverpool after some Environmental Representative training at my union HQ in London. I last saw my oldest son awake when I put him to bed on Monday night. I miss seeing both my boys and it is particularly hard to not see them for days in a row.
Life as a Euro MP is not child friendly. I will renew my pledge now that I will only ever travel from the North West to Brussels by train, but I also know that this means I’ll miss seeing my sons from Sunday night through to Fridays every three weeks out of four. As any parent will know, this is incredibly hard thing to do.
So what changed my mind? The lobbying and persuasion of some key people has been important, but so has the continued rapid ice loss year on year at the north pole, the crisis in our economy and the need to articulate a different vision of life to the overconsumption that is degrading the planet we live on. We may have as little as five years left to prevent runaway Climate Change.
I will stand again and put my heart and soul into the next Euro campaign for the Greens in the North West. It is a difficult personal decision, but I want the best future for my children. That means standing up again to be counted and doing the utmost I can to secure a lower carbon future as quickly as we can manage it. The stakes have never been higher, and I hope that if you are reading this, you’ll be willing to pledge to do something to support our efforts in the North West.
In 2009 we were incredibly close – less than 5,000 votes away from beating Nick Griffin and the BNP to that final seat. We need your help to reverse that result in two and a half year’s time. Let’s hope our efforts will be successful this time. Please get in contact and let me know what you are able to do to help. We need an army of volunteers to compete with the five other parties in the NW that currently benefit from Euro MP salaries, offices and expenses. We need to match their efforts on a fraction of the budget, and that needs to start now.