A sketched picture of James' head

James Smith

Building a better future out of code

The Loneliness Of The Long Distance PPC

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I’ve not been very good at keeping up with the regular blog posts about my election campaign. Partly that’s because there’s not so much learning going on at this point, but partly for other reasons, which this post may go some way to explaining.

I apologise in advance if this feels like a whinge; it’s not supposed to be.

This time, I’m not writing about how to stand, or why you should, but about what the process feels like from the inside. You might expect it to feel good, like you’re making a difference, but in reality (as with most things) it’s tough, relentless, and rather isolating.

The neverending todo list

First off, there’s the sheer amount there is to get done. At the moment I’m in a phase where there are always 20 rather urgent and important things that I really should get done. The unfortunate thing is that even when you do one, the other 19 are still there and the mountain of work is still just as crushing. It’s all I can do to firefight my way through.

As an example, I’ve only just got the full list of upcoming weekly events up on Facebook, Meetup, and our website. So far I’ve been terrible at promoting them because it’s always ended up a last minute thing. This means, of course, that not many people know about them, defeating the object. Hopefully now the list is up, we can get more people along, but still - this has been going on for months.

Finding focus is almost impossible

Because the todo list is so large, I find it really hard to focus on getting one thing done. Always part of your brain is being distracted by the other urgent things, and the dependency graph can end up looking like a spider web in your mind.

Of course, having a job makes it even worse. During the day, when I’m awake and alert, I’m not supposed to be campaigning. However, that’s of course when everything happens, so it’s hard not to. Campaign time comes at the end of the day, after the kids are in bed, dinner is done, and I’m knackered. Even harder to focus at that point.

I’m very jealous of the army of pensioners I see parading UKIP banners around the town centre. Must be easier if you have more time.

Putting off jobs makes them bigger

Because progress is slow, and most jobs are hanging over you so long, they seem huge and insurmountable a lot of the time. Hence not many blog posts. Even though it only takes a few minutes once you start, it seems harder beforehand, and when you’re struggling to focus… forget it.

Getting help is really hard

Everyone I’ve spoken to has been really positive about what we’re doing, with the exception of the two UKIP chaps who came along to one of my meetups. However, because people are busy, translating that into active support and help is really hard.

We have had some volunteers get in touch through the website, and we’ve brought them in to our Slack channel. They’ve done some great stuff, and I appreciate everything they’ve done, I really do. But still we’ve not gained enough momentum for things to happen by themselves. Everything still feels like it routes through me, which is very draining.

I guess it’s that for everyone else so far, this isn’t the single defining feature of their year. It feels like that’s just me, and that’s where the isolation really sets in.

What I really need, I think, is to find a campaign manager. Someone else local who believes in what we’re trying to do, and will take on the project management job of keeping everything moving. That would let me spend my time on essential candidate things like having opinions, talking to people, and spreading the message. If, by any chance, that’s you, please do get in touch!

Keep on grinding

This may all sound rather whiny, but I really don’t mean it that way. Instead, it’s half venting frustrations, and half being open about what this process is like.

I still strongly believe in what I’m doing, and that it’s the right thing to do. Even though I’ll almost certainly lose. Even though seeing more than 3 people at a meetup is a miracle (so far).

I’m doing it because still nobody else is offering what I want to see, and because I believe there is a new democratic movement forming that will bring us a better future.

That’s got to be worth the grind. Nothing comes for free, after all.

If you want to get involved, please fill in the volunteer form here, and thanks!


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