I'm glad I failed to win my local election

Why on earth did 193 people vote for me when they knew absolutely nothing about me?

Share

It was not meant to be. I realise that now, the morning after, as I pick up the pieces of my blighted political career. The only honourable course is to be a good loser, or at any rate to be seen to be a good loser. I shall therefore hurry round to the town hall, slap John Corbet-Singleton (Conservative) on the back for polling 25 per cent of the votes in my ward, commiserate with Adolph Bokasa (Labour) for getting even less votes than me, then slink of to the Builders Arms for a stiff drink.

It was not meant to be. I realise that now, the morning after, as I pick up the pieces of my blighted political career. The only honourable course is to be a good loser, or at any rate to be seen to be a good loser. I shall therefore hurry round to the town hall, slap John Corbet-Singleton (Conservative) on the back for polling 25 per cent of the votes in my ward, commiserate with Adolph Bokasa (Labour) for getting even less votes than me, then slink of to the Builders Arms for a stiff drink.

Did I ever tell you I was standing as a Lib Dem in the local council elections? Probably not. I only found out myself a couple of weeks ago. Throw another log on the fire and I'll tell you about it.

A month or so after I got a reminder about my Lib Dem membership being overdue, someone rang from their local office to ask if I would consider standing as a candidate. "To become a councillor you mean?'' I said stupidly. "Well, yes and no,'' they said. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is probably the safest Conservative council in the country – it's been Tory since the boroughs merged in 1965 – so while theoretically I could be elected, in reality I had as much chance as the proverbial snowball in hell.

"So why bother?'' I said. "Because,'' explain the Lib Dem spokesman, "if anyone did want to vote for Mr Kennedy's party they'd need a candidate to vote for.'' It was purely a formality. I was a paper candidate. All I had to do was fill in a few forms, persuade eight residents in my ward to sign my application and – er – renew my membership.

''It would serve you right,'' observed a cynical friend, "if you did get in and found yourself on a committee in charge of rubbish collection or road widening – that would soon take the lilt out of your step.''

Not necessarily. My step has been noticeable liltless of late largely because the rubbish collection and road widening arrangements in my area have all but ground to a halt. Indeed, reducing the width of the roads appears to be the council's chief preoccupation, making cycling (all my children use bikes) as dangerous a pursuit as tobacco farming in Zimbabwe.

As for the rubbish, since the pavements doubled in size so have the bin bags piled outside shops and restaurants. Eating al fresco in the Kings Road is delightful as long as you remember to bring a nose clip.

If I were a councillor in charge of social services I'd have cycle lanes on every road and rubbish collection twice a day. Alas I am not. I only got 193 votes or 3 per cent of the poll. Hang on, did I say "only''? Why on earth did 193 people (correction, 192 – I voted for myself) vote for someone called Susan Hilary Hutchison, my official married name, when they knew absolutely nothing about me or my policies. How many votes would I have got, I wonder, if I had actually trudged up and down the neighbourhood's streets knocking on people's doors with a yellow rose in my buttonhole.

Maybe next time I'll give it a whirl and Mr Corbet-Singleton a run for his money. And then again maybe not. It takes a special person to be a councillor, a committed, caring, conscientious person prepared to sacrifice friends, family and social life in the interests of the greater good, the wider road, the better bin collection.

A small, insistent bell has been ringing somewhere in the back of my head as I write this. Ah, now I remember. It was the first story I covered as a cub reporter on the London Evening Standard. It concerned the late Sir Malby Crofton, former mayor of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea who, it was alleged, when the bin men were on strike for more pay, had secretly arranged for his own dustbins to be emptied in the middle of the night.

Good for old Malby. What's the point of being mayor if you can't get your dustbins emptied? And what is the point, for that matter, of being saddled with a name like Malby if you don't end up as mayor?

On second thoughts I'm glad I only polled a 193 votes last Thursday. The only job worth having in local government is mayor. Being a councillor is no fun. I once had tea with the mayoress of Preston in Lancashire, who wore white gloves and didn't take them off when she ate scones. On either side of her front gate were cemented two 10-foot halberds with shiny blades.

"I'll give you a tip,'' said the Mayoress. "Just in case. If you wrap the blades of your halberds in clingfilm, you never need to polish them.''

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Software / Web Developer - ASP.NET

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company produces a wide ra...

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones