On Careerism in Politics

In this article, Oliver Simpkin looks at the controversial issue of careerism in politics and whether such a phenomenon exists. Oliver is currently one of two Campaigns Officers for St Helens Young Labour, he is 17 and, in between agonising over his A Levels, is a massive fan of Aaron Sorkin’s ‘The West Wing’

Ask three Labour members who’s damaging the party right now and you’ll get three different opinions either; it’s Corbyn and his Trotskyist spies; it’s Blair and the New Labour lot or you’ll hear a more accurate idea. It’s not an ideology that damages the Labour Party, it’s a coalition of all beliefs that manifest themselves into something we can only refer to as “Careerism.”
Labour is the Party of help. That much is true. We do our best when we make this a defining goal of our leadership, our parliamentarians, our elected officials and our activists. So, how do you help people? You put them first. I think we’re all in agreement on that. So would someone please do me a favour and tell this to the seemingly endless raft of careerists stuck to the Party like barnacles to a boat.
You know the type I mean. People of all ages who will jump at an issue to promote their perennial election to some committee or another are the true enemies of the Labour Party. There normally part of so many groups they can’t actually commit to any of them. I feel like saying “If you Union Officer for one group, LGBT Officer for a second and Chair of a third. How do you get anything done?” They want to capitalise on the issues, but do nothing to solve it. They want to make the Party their personal playground and climb the ladder of offices. It’s no shock to me, nor should it be to any of you, the number of people in our Party that have advanced from post to post, Chair of a CLP to Chair of a Regional Committee to getting on the NEC. Don’t misinterpret me though, I’m all for experienced officials, but when we look at the track record of some of these people all they’ve done is tweeted a selfie of the actual activists, or taken the credit for the actual organisers hard work. Their shameless careerism has to end.
Look, if you think that you should stand for a committee, and if you think that you could do it better than the incumbent or your opponents then good luck to you. Revolutionise a tired old bureaucracy, of meetings, committees and executive bodies who make decisions in the shade. But please, do it for the sake of the Party, not for your own little Labour legacy.
To paraphrase JFK. “Ask not what your Party can do for you, ask what you can do for your Party.” So I beg you, don’t let people who just want to be something for the sake of a few lines on a CV stop you from getting out there and actually making a difference.
But rather than just preaching to you I want to show the careerists how to act. All of us who have achieved something, who won some form of election or have organised an event or campaign. We need to act, we need to get involved, we need to make sure that all elements of the Party, young and old, are committed to the Party not to themselves.


Disagree with what Oliver said? Want to write a response? Email labour.lyon@gmail.com and we’ll publish your article.

Oliver Simpkin
Oliver Simpkin

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