As always, there’s more than one reason.
I was working in the voluntary sector at the time, so, job-wise, I could change tracks fairly easily. I’d done some time in the civil service, so I kind of knew what I was letting myself in for.
I was enthusiastically helping out other first-time candidates, when I realised that I enjoyed it and cared about it, and there probably wasn’t going to be another time in my life when it would be any easier to stand than right now, so … if not me, then who?
But there were other things, too:
Not long before the last Election, it was suggested that Guernsey should do something in response to the Syrian refugee crisis. This provoked a massive public reaction – some of it really horrible. I felt strongly that the voices that were coming to the fore at that time – many of them hostile, angry, even aggressive – did not reflect the reality of my beloved Island community, and the generally welcoming, caring and compassionate nature of most people who live here.
But I was afraid that those voices would continue to dominate in the media, and to unduly influence political decision-making, unless there were enough people in the States who were prepared to put forward, and believe in, a more compassionate way of looking at the world. So that is what I have tried to do.
I should also confess to the thing that inspired me, and which I keep going back to when I need to recharge. The trouble is, it’s a bit pretentious and self-important. But here goes:
There is a scene in Selma where (as I remember it) the campaigners are gathered together in someone’s small living room; a couple of men lounging on couches and armchairs, others standing around. It was one of the movie’s smaller, quieter moments. A moment of friends together, in someone’s house; talking about strategy, united by a common cause.
I wouldn’t dare to compare myself to the incredible men and women who led the American Civil Rights movement. And I’m not trying to. But they were human, like us. That was what inspired me. The idea that great political changes are born in poky living rooms and on battered couches, perhaps more so than in the magnificent halls of power. That ordinary people with ordinary virtues and vices are capable of creating and leading extraordinary things.
Those people were remarkable, but still that moment made me see politics as ordinary people, in ordinary places, planning and muddling through and making change happen step by step; regrouping and lifting each other up and trying again. It reminded me that politics is not for “other people”, it’s for people just like us. And if we don’t step up, we just won’t achieve the changes we want to see.