Thursday, May 09, 2013

An anthropologist looks at the Liberal Democrats

I am not the first to link to this article, but if you have not yet read the field study of the Liberal Democrats by Fred Carver on his blog Who Rules Where you should hurry over there now.

A taste:
If you want to be an MP it helps to be rich, charismatic, likeable, hard-working, lucky, good with the media, have a good back story, have a solid track record with the party, and good at campaigning. 
But you don’t need to be any of these things. The only thing you absolutely need is ridiculous, and I mean absolutely ridiculous, levels of self-belief. This is because no rational human being would ever want to do it. 
If you want to be an MP you must give up all semblance of a normal life for years, often decades, at a time. You must be unemployed, or have a very patient employer and a meaningless job, for about a year before the election. You must surrender all meaningful contact with friends and family. 
In the months before an election you must spend around twenty hours a day shaking hands, smiling, and making token purchases. And if you are not driven completely insane by this you also have to come to terms with the fact that there is a very very good chance that you are going to lose.
Liberal Democrats also have formative rituals, or initiation ceremonies, known as 'by elections' to establish identification with the group. The by election ritual is much like the circumcision ritual of the Xhosa tribe: 
"During the time of the initiation, the young men live in special huts, secluded from the rest of the tribe and especially from any females. They undergo training and endurance tests, which require great discipline. All aspects of the initiation are kept very secret."
The only sad thing is that this article is by way of a resignation letter from the party.

My theory is that the more spectacular someone's resignation from the party, the more likely he or she is to come back one day. (It's the ones who are quietly walking away we should be worrying about.)

As resignations don't come much more spectacular - or entertaining - than this, there must be the hope that we shall see Fred again one day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just found this now. Its really sweet. Thank you!

Fred Carver (I probably will be back one day, I thought I said as much)