Just over a week ago I failed to be re-elected to Luton Borough Council.
Since then I’ve handed in my Town Hall pass, done a substantial amount of tidying and throwing things away, got drunk, caught up on my sleep, and had time to reflect on my new situation. I now am ready to write up the experience, starting with how it felt like I had become a poster boy for “Lib Dem misery”.
In common with activists and candidates across the country the election result was, shall we say, a difficult one for the Liberal Democrats in Luton and me personally. This was not made any easier by my regular appearances on national television.
Unbeknownst to me, during the election count in the hall of the Regional Sports Centre, a BBC camera crew took it upon themselves to film shots of candidates watching the counting operation. Someone then made the decision to use some of the footage from Luton to illustrate the story of Liberal Democrat misery across the country. The first I knew about it was when I started getting messages from people via Twitter saying they had seen me on the telly. This continued for most of Friday and into the weekend.
When I finally got to see what they were talking about I realised that I had been filmed at the point when I’d gone to the stage at one end of the hall to have a sit down and catch up on what was happening elsewhere. The irony was that at that point in the morning, we didn’t leave the count until gone six o’clock on Friday, I was not particularly gloomy. I knew we were having a bad night but, given the circumstances, my spirits were reasonably high.
Yes Nick Robinson “in Luton heads were down” – but that was because I was looking at my phone.
However, losing an election is never a pleasant thing and I’d have preferred not to have the fact advertised across the BBC. Why weren’t they ever there in the past to film me when I actually won something?
If you must, you can see a report in which they use this footage of me here. You might also spot a few other Luton Liberal Democrats as well.
That was bad enough, but then on Wednesday as I was watching the 10 O’clock News’ coverage of the first anniversary of the formation of the coalition government, there I was again. I now have a real fear that from now on when anyone at the BBC wants some stock footage of a Lib Dem looking miserable it will be that picture of me looking at my phone.
Frankly, if I had known that was going to happen I’d have worn some smarter shoes!