Sunday, 12 January 2014

Why I'm no longer the PPC for North East Somerset

There's a part of me that is already smiling at the people from other parties who might have clicked this for some gossip. There's been an internal falling out in the LibDems? I've been caught speeding? Niet. 

The truth isn't nearly as interesting, nor would it get reported in the Daily Mail. Regular readers (yes, all three of you!) will know that I've been battling depression for some time now. I don't write about it all the time, because I don't think it's that interesting, but it's the truth. With the help of my therapist, I've come to realise a lot of the things that I've always done that have led to me feeling desperately unhappy and I've been able to do something about them. One of those things, is the habit of repeatedly overloading myself. Partly, it's because my parents didn't have all the opportunities I've had and so I've been raised to grasp every chance I get. Partly, it's because when you're feeling so desperately sad inside about who you are, or what your life is, you constantly look for ways to improve things or progress things without thinking of the important detail. 

All of these things aligned some time ago when I realised that I was a District Councillor, County Councillor, School Governor, part-time office worker, full-time student and that I was considering running for selection for a Parliamentary seat. Now, to the average Joe, that's a nightmare, but somewhere in my mind, it was all great - I was going places. Of course, what's easy to see in hindsight is that I wasn't going anywhere and in fact, I was actually making myself more unwell. 

So, before Christmas, I decided to take two months leave from the County Council so that I could take some time to get myself together and try and understand what I actually wanted and had time to do. I only took leave from the County, because I didn't want to drop everything entirely. This news was received well, largely, from all areas. I had Conservative Councillors approaching me to check on how I was doing and wishing me well, and I had people contacting me that I didn't even know, just to offer me support. I often think it's just when things seem darkest that the nicest things happen and I feel incredibly well cared for. 

Of course, what all this led to was actually something very difficult. The slow realisation that I couldn't physically or practically continue with all the things I was doing without somehow splitting myself in two, or trying to hire a body double. The logic I used in the end was very simple. I need to be around for the people who have already voted for me, before I worry about trying to convince anybody else. What's so difficult about that, is that stepping back from my role in North East Somerset also meant stepping away from some incredibly special friends I've made there, and accepting that I won't play the same role on the journey. 

For anybody from the other parties in NES, snooping here for gossip - I'll let you have it. You have your work cut out for you. That's it and all there is about it. Our people there are so passionate, so committed to their communities, that you're going to have to get up early to beat them, and that's a good thing. People like my friend Cllr Simon Allen in Radstock, who care about their towns and villages above all else, are exactly the reason that some kind of planned LibDem wipeout isn't likely to happen. They are proud and brilliant public servants, and I'll be there in some capacity making sure they're still around in eighteen months time. 

So, there it is. No scandal, no drama. I'm still a LibDem, at some point I might try and run for Parliament again, because I love a good barney and because I think people deserve to have their voices heard. I'll be away again until the start of Feb, because that's when I return to public work at the County Council, but boy, just you wait til I'm back, because I'm raring to go. 

Thanks again for the support I've received, y'all are just too nice. 


  1. Sam, I'm not a regular reader, but I found this interesting. I've struggled with similar things myself (for around two years now) and I find you gradually get better and learn what makes you happy. It's good for people to talk about these things anyway - I know it can be really hard!

    Best of luck

  2. Brilliant blog Sam. Thank you for being so honest. I'm a Lib Dem councillor as well as manager of my local branch of Mind and we need more people to speak out about this kind of thing. A few years ago I had to take some time off from my work in the NHS due to stress and anxiety and I too had to reappraise where I was putting my energy.

    It is since then I've become involved in local politics and I've found there is a very unhealthy culture where there is huge expectation to lose all boundaries on your time and any suggestion of having time off or time with the family is often seen as shirking responsibility or a sign of poor commitment.

    I know how hard it is to win an election having won in a traditionally safe Labour seat, but I did so while still having a day off campaigning every week to be with my family. These things need to be more out in the open and more up for debate as a frazzled and burnt out politician is no good to anyone.

    Thank you again, and all the best.