Alexander Brown: I always wanted to work in politics but I'm falling out of love with it

As far back I can remember, I always wanted to be in politics.

Delivering newspapers as a teenager, I would devour the front pages at a time they were full of lies about the pace in which Sadam Hussein could use weapons of mass destruction.

Watching the news at home with my family, I remember seeing the leader of the Liberal Democrats Charles Kennedy explaining at a protest why he opposed the war, and I knew I opposed it as well.

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A general view of Elizabeth Tower, which houses Big Ben, at the House of Commons in Westminster, London. Picture: Press Association
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It was a formative moment, an introduction to anxiety over international affairs and a desire to make them better.

As I got older and went to university this passion for politics only intensified as I realised I was far better at lamenting problems I could not fix than talking to girls.

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Politics was not merely an interest, it along with football dominated my every waking thought.

I then became a journalist working in the courts, but always with the goal of one day becoming a political reporter and working in parliament.

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Working at a tabloid, I volunteered for anything remotely politically adjacent in a bid to convince them it was worthy of coverage and further my chances of getting to Westminster.

It was an uphill battle with political conferences being something I could attend if I didn’t expense food, and Westminster exclusives something I genuinely saw scrapped for pictures of squirrels on jet skis.

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But I got to political journalism because I wanted it, and took jobs I disagreed with to get me here.

Working in parliament is something I still feel privileged over, feeling the weight of its history.

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Even now I don’t understand how people aren’t interested in politics, this sweeping vehicle for change that shapes so much of their lives.

Seeing “moderate” or “apolitical” on a dating app to me is more of a red flag than actual bad behaviour, suggesting they don’t care about others.

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But now I worry it’s beginning to lose its allure and I need to treat it solely as a job.

In my few years here, I have been sexually harassed, heard of MPs and journalists doing the same without it being reported, and learned enough gross stories to fill a paper back to front.

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Westminster is not a safe place, nor is it a particularly nice one, with older men exploiting power dynamics to sleep or pester women not remotely age appropriate.

These are hearsay or direct from the source, and as a result things I cannot report.

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Then there is the policy, with Britain facing a cost-of-living crisis and climate emergency and no rush from the party of government to address either.

I am tired, so tired of writing about awful events and not being able to legally write about worse ones, and see no sign of hope in sight.

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There is a housing crisis, inflation, strikers wanting a fair wage are treated as the enemy and food banks are turning people away.

Despite my reverence for working here, seeing how the sausage is made has turned me off.

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A new Prime Minister brings new priorities, and hopefully happier things to write about with higher safety measures.

I love politics and wish this place was better, until it is I’ll have to learn to just compartmentalise and switch off.



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