About seven months ago I was asked what I was going to do in my future political life. My response was that "for the moment at least, I have decided to take a break from politics in Reading. I was 26 when first elected to RBC and am now 52, so I think I've done my shift for now. Any political currency I have left probably relies on my independent status, and that is how it will remain. I will not be standing as a candidate for any elected position, nor joining any political party in the foreseeable future."
But now, to my surprise, I find myself being drawn back into overt local political activity. I, like many others, have become angered by the way that the LibDem/Tory coalition government seem intent on wreaking havoc on the public services with no mandate whatsoever. And locally, we seem to have a coalition council which seems desperate to ape their Westminster cousins. And the ward where I live has been completely abandoned, or so it seems.
I have some respect for the Tories - even if I fundamentally oppose much of what they do - because they are simply following their consistent, ideological purpose. The LibDems have no such excuse - and they will, in the end, pay for it.
So I have re-joined the Labour Party. Recently, I have been helping to re-establish the Reading Trades Union Council and that work has brought me into contact with comrades old and new. We have a real fight to defend our public services and there are some really good people getting together to take up the challenges. I have also been really impressed by Ed Miliband. He has a tough job ahead of him, but from what I have seen, I believe he is more than up to it. I have been cheered, too, by the attitude of Chris Maskell, John Ennis and Jo Lovelock in only wanting to look forward, without rancour or debate.