Red Faced

Saturday, February 17th, 2007 @ 11:27AM

I’m in Aviemore at this weekend for Liberal Democrat Conference. As a Public Affairs professional, a significant part of my working life is spent talking to and working with politicians from other political parties. I’ve met a number of people over the last few months who I greatly admire, even if I personally disagree with their politics.

I’ve been very conscious this weekend of my red face in a distinctly amber crowd. What’s really interesting is that when I get chatting to people here, often the first thing they note is not that I’m Sarah Boyack’s election agent or indeed that I’m list candidate for Labour in the Lothians, but this damn blog!

I was sat in the bar last night at a table full of journalists and parliamentary officers from various organisations who’d formed an alliance through shared acquaintances and the absence of a Lib Dem membership card. I turned to one guy on my left and asked him if he was a Liberal Democrat party member and when he replied “God No!” – I thought it was safe enough to recount the tales of my day.

I said that every time I’d met someone that day they’d identified me with this blog and it had become distinctly uncomfortable until I mentioned the alarming hate emails I’d received after writing about the BNP the other day. He said “You’re not Kezia Dugdale are you!?” Yes - I sheepishly replied to the SNP activist and after briefly drawing swords we had a great laugh about some of the psychology around blogs and whether any normal people actually ever read them. (The answers no incidentally)

I’d met Derek Young earlier in the day, Derek was originally the Lib Dem candidate for Edinburgh Central but stood down just before Christmas I think. Had it not been for conference, I doubt we’d ever have found ourselves in a similar social circle. We talked about his involvement in the Malawi Partnership and the pride he has for being involved in developing the Lib Dems civil partnership policy in the mid 90s, things I have a huge respect for.

Since then I’ve been thinking about the gang warfare of party politics. Why is it we make instant judgements about people based on their party colours? The very fact that we’re all political engaged, passionate about the role that politics can play in making progress and all daft enough to go leafleting on a Saturday morning suggests we have a lot in common…but yet the playground patriarchy overwhelms.

So in summary, I’m going to try and be a bit less tribal. At least until I leave Aviemore…

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