Fourteen signs that you are a political obsessive

Many of those involved in public affairs are often thought of as being political geeks or nerds. Not that I think there is anything wrong with that but what are the signs that you really are a political obsessive?

Of course, not everyone involved in public affairs falls into this category and some will actually use it as a form of insult or as a way of suggesting that public affairs is only about politics and should not be taken as seriously as other aspects of communication.

But if you think you may be showing the signs of being a political obsessive, what should you be looking out for?

1 ‘Oh no, not another one’: unlike Brenda from Bristol, you actually look forward and relish the prospect of elections, especially general elections. Your limits may have been slightly stretched over recent years but you are slightly disappointed that a government with a big majority means that you are probably going to have to wait four years for another one.

2 Election night party: you want to spend election night in a large gathering (if COVID-19 will now allow) watching all the results come in.

3 Gambling: as well as a few serious bets, you will have a series of informal bets especially around election time.

4 Quizzing: probably only among good friends but you will test each other on political trivia such as size of parliamentary majorities through to shortest serving cabinet members.

5 Political heroes: there is no doubt that you will have a number of political heroes, maybe even a top five, but the chances are that most of them will be from the past.

6 Party conferences: you actually enjoy attending the party conferences despite the badly air-conditioned venues, poor quality wine, lack of sleep and absence of fruit and vegetables from your diet.

7 Manifestos: you read the party election manifestos, may mark them up and probably have a few stored away for future references.

8 Collections: you have a collection of some form of political memorabilia or mementos such as; badges, posters, or napkins once used by Mrs Thatcher.

9 Heaving bookshelves: these may be virtual or real but whichever form it takes, you will have read numerous analyses books of eras or governments, insider accounts, biographies and autobiographies. The real bookshelves make for a great Zoom background as well.

10 Photographs: while much easier since the advent of selfies, there is nothing better than obsessive likes than a political-themed photograph. Top of the list will be the obsessive standing beside or shaking the hand of a politician but that is not to discount the importance of obligatory ‘standing outside of No 10’ photo or the collection of ‘these are all the parliaments around the world that I have visited’ images.

11 Following political stories: unlike many others you read newspapers starting with the main political stories of the day and only turn to the sports sections later.

12 Politics starts and end your day: you wake up to the Today programme and end it with Newsnight. For those suffering really badly with the obsession Question Time will then be part of the weeks’ viewing as well.

13 The weekends: the obsession doesn’t just last from Monday to Friday but takes in the weekends as well, especially Sundays when the political TV is often at its best (Sophie Ridge and Andrew Marr), and there are all those larger newspapers, as well as political magazines, to work through as well. If you are incapable of getting up early on a Sunday then Sky boxes will be recording the shows for later viewing; and

14 Easy listening: every spare minute will be filled by catching up with political podcasts as well, so as not to miss any information or nuance. While the commute may not currently be available for such listening, there are always the visits to the gym, long runs or maybe just the supermarket shopping.

There are plenty of us around who ‘suffer’ from the political obsession and I could well have missed out some tell-tale signs.

Let me know if I have!

Stuart is a public affairs and communications specialist with BDB Pitmans advising clients on all elements of their public affairs strategies including political and corporate communications and reputation management. His work also includes consultation and planning communications and he has advised on a number of high profile media relations and crisis communications programmes. Stuart is an honorary research fellow at the University of Aberdeen and is the author of several books including ‘New Activism and the Corporate Response‘ (heralded as a book that “every aspiring business leader should read” by MIS Asia), ‘Public Affairs in Practice’ and ‘The Dictionary of Labour Quotations‘. His most recently published book, ‘Public Affairs: A Global Perspective’ has been called ‘an absolute treasure-trove’ and is a recommended read by the Government Communication Service (GCS). Stuart regularly writes and lectures on a range of business and political issues and as well as blogging for BDB Pitmans he contributes to the Huffington Post and has written for the CBI, (former) UKTI, Total Politics and LabourList. He is also an adviser to the Entrepreneurs Network (TEN) and a regular speaker and chair at conferences. He has appeared on Sky News, BBC 5 Live, BBC World, the Today programme and on Ukrainian TV and has been a judge for the Public Affairs News, PR Week, Public Affairs and the European Public Affairs awards. Stuart is a CIPR trainer leading the 'Practical Public Affairs' course.

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