ALEX Stevenson, the perceptive deputy ed at politics.co.uk, meets Hampstead and Kilburn MP Glenda Jackson and concludes that it seems “sensible” for her to exit the Commons at the next General Election. It’s not meant as a sleight, he just notes the wolves were at the door last time around. He writes:
She has already confirmed her intention to stand down in 2015. This is probably sensible. Given her majority of just 42 last time round, in a campaign she says was “probably the most interesting election I’ve ever fought”, that seems sensible.
His interview is an interesting job, explaining her switch from acting to politics 20 years ago and a wonderful comparison between theatre and politics – a better job than Eamonn Holmes managed when he wondered aloud as to whether she would have been better off staying in drama (see above).
In this latest interview – and she doesn’t do that many – you sense a weariness in Glenda’s words as she bemoans how serious issues are tackled with soundbites by our politicians. Of those Clegg-o-mania television debates, she explains: “They were so tightly bound, which the politicians had engineered of course. But it’s a medium that is like moving wallpaper. The issues that they were trying to untangle – you can’t do it in two lines.”
It’s a theme of the interview. Everything is much more complicated and bigger than the public are allowed to digest. Everything is facile. That’s a fair point but sadly the depth of her own thoughts is not revealed in much greater detail than her dislike for Thatcher and cuts to the arts.
And of those wolves snapping at the door in 2010, there will be those who snigger with irony at her complaint that politicians do not engage with the ‘average’ voter enough. One of the biggest lances shoved in her direction was that she was not active enough as a constituency MP. It’s an attack she often refuses to accept and makes the point that private, sensitive casework is not stuff for broadcast and PR.
Glenda warns: “The most overriding problem with all political parties is genuinely engaging with the electorate.”
P’ah, will say the Tories. P’ah, will say the Lib Dems. And p’ah, will say just one or two Labour members too. There’s a bunch of people in Hampstead who say they haven’t felt engaged with their local MP for too long.
It would be interesting to know in detail where Glenda stands on a lot of issues. She is sometimes cast as left of the party, rebellious, but then during the riots she was calling for the army to restore order, a sentiment which you might assume could upset natural allies in the old guard.
It comes across that she feels there are sensible heads whose good ideas aren’t always heard because they are not skilled in front of a camera. There’s this nugget in Alex’s interview: “To equate charisma as something that is of absolute value and good seems to me to be very dangerous.”
Who could she be talking about?