Part One: Standing for Election

Part Two: In the States

Part Three: Everything Else

Should I be worried about skeletons in my closet?

Well, that depends what they are. If you have done something actually Bad, then yes, the time you become a public figure might well be the time it comes back to haunt you. And probably deservedly so.

But I don’t think there are many people who fall into that category, and I very much doubt you’re one of them.

If you’ve sneaked a look at this question, I suspect you might be worried that embarrassing photos of you from student days, or from a boozy stag or hen do, might make their way into the Press; or political opinions you’ve long since grown out of might be dragged up from the depths of your social media account; or someone you’ve crossed at work might go public with a devastating character assassination of you … Something like that?

So, first things first. You don’t see that happen much over here, and that’s certainly not because we’re better behaved, as people, than politicians anywhere else in the world. We’re just very lucky not to have a gutter press of the kind you see in the UK.

Very early on in my political term, I joked with a journalist about being doorstepped, and they were quick (and kind) enough to point out that would only happen “if something went very badly wrong.” Thankfully, our media doesn’t usually waste its time taking pot-shots at people’s colourful pasts or private lives.

Of course it might all change in future. Sadly, if it does, I think it’s likely to be politician-led. If we see parties form on a similar model to the UK, we’ll probably see the same pattern, where almost as much effort is invested in gathering up mud to sling at one’s opponents, as it is in developing and delivering one’s own agenda.

All I can say is that it’s not like that right now. You can be grateful for your colourful past, because it’s shaped you, and because you’ve learnt (sometimes painful) lessons from it that you shouldn’t have to repeat in future. And you can be fairly sure that, here and now, it’s not likely to be weaponised against you – and long may that continue.

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