I was recently interviewed about how I got into politics, what advice I have for would-be politicians and what qualities I think politicians need. First, I would stress, I am not “in politics” as such; I’m an interested observer. Obviously very interested, given the work I do. Second, I can’t say I would ever want to be a politician myself. I think it takes a very particular skill set to do politics right. I’m much better at advising from the side lines.
That said, I do know what I want to see in a politician. I know what I think a politician should be.
A politician should be inspirational. They should be brave. They should lead opinion, not just follow it. They should be able to stand up and say what needs to be said, no matter the consequences for themselves, and no matter how much it goes against established belief.
I know that politics is about compromise, and we need people in politics who understand that ideology without pragmatism is never going to achieve anything. I know that running a country means being able to balance the books, to keep everything ticking along. I know that the reality of elections is that politicians sometimes need to pander to the media and to public opinion. That they need to keep as many people on side as possible, and fighting the media’s hold on public opinion is absolutely not going to do that.
I know all this.
But if asked what I want from a politician, my answer is simple. I want to be inspired.