Paddy: So you want to be a politician? Get a life (first).

by Stephen Tall on May 20, 2012

That’s Paddy’s view, as reported in the Independent’s diary here:

Paddy Ashdown, the first leader of the Liberal Democrat party, has remarked on how politics has been taken over by people who have never had a job anywhere else but in politics, giving the strong impression that he does not approve. “The difference with politics today, and politics when I was leader of the Liberal Democrats, is the people working in politics,” he said. “I worked in the military. I was involved in business. I have been unemployed twice, working as a voluntary youth worker. Today’s politicians have simply only ever been politicians.”

Of course not every politician has Paddy’s rather exceptional CV, as his fascinating memoirs demonstrated. But at the 1992 general election, all three main party leaders had held jobs previously unconnected with politics: John Major as an executive at Standard Chartered Bank, and Neil Kinnock as a tutor for the Workers’ Educational Association. Even Tony Blair had worked as a barrister before becoming an MP.

The media yesterday was full of snarky references to David Cameron ‘chillaxing’ on Sundays, as if the prime minister should detach himself from any sense of an ordinary life balancing work and family. Of all the concerns I have about Mr Cameron as PM, this is the very least of them — it is the thin homogeneity of our leading politicians’ (in)experience which is much more concerning.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.