Over the last few months I have been motivated to write about politics and then as I open up the blog I just think – ‘Oh I can’t bothered’. It’s only going to get people shouting on social media again.
But yesterday as I heard the of the sad news that Tessa Jowell has passed away I was deeply moved and reminded there was a time when politics was gentler and could operate with kindness.
As usual many more people have written more eloquent pieces about the sad passing of Tessa Jowell. But because of the contribution she made to both politics and demonstrating it was possible to be nice and kind I wanted to do more than the simple social media post.
I know Tessa will rightly be remembered for many of her achievements like SureStart, but I really got to know her because of my links to sport and the Olympics. There are things I regret from my time in Parliament and one of them is not accepting the offer from Tessa to be her PPS in the run up to the 2010 General Election. I had worked closely with Tessa, the BOA and Seb Coe and others to support the case for the 2012 Olympics from within the Treasury role I had at the time.
There are little memories. At conference in Brighton a couple of years ago Tessa saw me came over outside the Conference Centre and grabbed me to take her into the little Thank You party she was holding. I joined her at a Campaign Fundraising dinner for her Mayoralty & she did what all good politicians do – she namechecked me in her thank you speech. But what was different about Tessa is that you could tell it was natural. It wasn’t a technique but genuine warmth.
These summed up years of chats and coffees in the Commons or at events. She never seemed rushed and despite the many Ministerial calls on her time always found those moments to be with people and ‘present’ As I read about everybody else having the same experience it makes you wonder how she managed to fit it in. However, I recall in one of our chats about Ministerial life she sis confess that only a couple of hours on that Sunday afternoon had she has any ‘me time’ after another hectic week in Westminster, her constituency and then the Sunday round of TV.. she says she loved it and thrived but it was a confirming moment that I had always known the pursuit of ministerial office wasn’t for me. I wasn’t prepared to give up so much me, family, church and sport time to politics!
Although we’ve bumped into each other over the last few years her last time in Loughborough during the 2010 Campaign was special. She came up with the PM to launch the Sports Manifesto we created and I had helped write. She was just wonderful all day with people. Never needing to grab the limelight. If you see the photos , always there but never pushing to the front. Flickr
Through her I met many wonderful Sports Journalists who you will see have nothing but praise for her
Paul Kelso wrote this – Paul Kelso
This was a lovely piece from Alistair Campbell who knew better than most.
Or some political writers – one of my favourite is Stephen Bush who wrote this
She could get angry about things too – as she did about Gove and his cuts to Schools Sport
Over the years I have lost some close and good friends in Politics all taken too early. Tessa will be long remembered for her political career but also for her very human touches of kindness. That’s worth a lot more in the long run.