There is something rather tragic about politicians (and people in other walks of life as well) who become so fixated by themselves, so convinced by their own publicity/spin, so certain of their own fame and greatness that they lose touch with reality. It’s an attitude personified by the pompous question “Don’t you know who I am? “
Poor Nadine Dorries is one such. Perhaps not the sharpest knife in the box, and the authoress of some of the worst novels I have ever had the misfortune to read, she laboured in quiet obscurity until Boris thought she would make a good cheerleader. Pompoms, frills and all. A disjointed nose when she was dumped as a Peer of the Realm, she is now, in her opinion, one of the most important people in Westminster, nay the UK, very probably the world. There is no greater sin in my book in politics (and actually probably in most areas of human endeavour) than taking yourself too seriously. Ben Wallace by contrast was one of the most distinguished yet modest Cabinet Ministers of my generation and is stepping back without fanfare.
Realising your own frailty, your insignificance in the long sweep of history; recognising that in Andy Warhol’s words, "Everyone is world-famous for 15 minutes”; or as Samuel Becket hath it “They give birth astride a grave, the light gleams an instant, then its night once more.”; if you realise those things, then you can put self-regard to one side, and enjoy and relish the things which are truly important in life.
As Parliament reconvenes, I am looking forward to my constituency work, getting to know the new Gloucestershire part of my patch; continuing my work on Defence and the Armed Forces; enjoying what I do on the Environment and North and South Polar Regions; and getting engaged with the running of Parliament through my role on the Speaker’s Panel of Chairmen. These and a hundred other ‘peripheral’ interests are what occupy my mind morning noon and night. How lucky I am to have them.
Now I suppose that you could say that I am a humble and obscure politico – probably obscure, if not humble. Its plain that I am not a Theresa May whose new book is out; nor a Boris, David Cameron or a hundred other stellar personalities. They soared to the heights enjoyed their moment of fame and good fortune and fell back to Earth Icarus-like. Perhaps it is because I have not had that ‘good fortune’, or perhaps because I genuinely love what I do- in Constituency and Parliament alike that I suspect that I am a great deal happier, much more comfortable in my own clothes, than the great grandees who have smelled real power.
After all, it is not Parliament who run Britain, it is the Government who are but a subset of Parliament. Our job as parliamentarians is to scrutinise what they do, hold them to account, and shout the corner for the people of our own constituency. Those are the truly worthwhile roles as a politician, and I love every minute of them.
So if I ever made the mistake of asking someone “Don’t you know who I am?” I would be perfectly content with the answer “Not the faintest idea, mate,” although I am not sure that I would go quite as far as my colleague Lee Anderson, who being doorstepped by a TV crew when we were going into No 10 together one day, turned to the cameras and famously replied “Don’t ask me, mate. I’m just the window cleaner.”