Charles Anglin is a Liberal Democrat. He's also black. He's also gay. Until May he was a LibDem councillor in Lambeth. Shortly before the local elections his local paper ran a lurid story of him posing semi-naked on a gay dating website. Result? He lost his council seat. He was, of course, very naive to have done this. Why am I mentioning this now? Because he's written a very thought provoking piece on his BLOG on the subject in which he says the experience probably means he'll never run for election again. Here's an extract...
If the price of being open about who I am is to lose office then that is I'm afraid a price well worth paying.I doubt I'll ever run for office again - having been a political activist all my adult life now that I've tasted freedom I must confess that I rather like it. However, this isn't just about what happened to me - it's about what kind of politicians we want as a society. How often have we heard the complaint that politicians are aloof and separate, that one of the causes of political disaffection is that they lead lives completely divorced from the experiences of the electorate. Now we are told that it is only those people who conform to an imagined ideal of behaviour who are fit to hold office. Surely we can't have it both ways. Yes 'when you voluntarily enter public life there are some constraints' the public have a right to expect certain standards from their elected representatives. They have the right to expect that they will not break the law, the right to expect that they will not do or say one thing in public and another in private, they have the right to expect that they will not do anything that stops them fulfilling the job to which they were elected.
But what they do not have the right to is determine how a politician lives their private life. By private, I don't mean hidden and unseen - I mean that part of their life that is not accountable, whether it be that they go to church on Sunday, have a secret taste for barn dancing or they get dates on the internet.If we want to have politicians who are vaguely recognisable as members of the human race then we are going to have to stop attacking them for being...well....frankly...human. That is particularly true of those who so presumptuously claim to be in the vanguard of liberal thinking. For me the role of Liberals is not to criticise people for exercising their freedoms it is to defend them.
You can read the full article HERE. I don't know Charles Anglin but I have met him a couple of times. I do remember having a conversation with him once and thinking that he would make a good MP and the LibDems would do well to nurture him. He did nothing illegal and he did nothing hypocritical. He made a silly mistake and he's paid the price. His experience illustrates very well why so many people are put off a political career. If he reads this, I hope he'll think again... Having said that, knowing my luck with LibDems he'll now stand against me wherever I end up and win!