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Alan Johnson bids farewell to scary constituents

Features | By Alan Johnson | July 2017


Standing down as an MP will mean Alan Johnson no longer has to pound the streets at election time. He won’t miss it

There are many things I’ll miss about being an MP (the people, the prestige, the salary) but being part of the election process isn’t one of them. Technological advances have changed most aspects of our lives, yet pounding the streets in pursuit of votes continues to be the main activity of the putative politician. I had an advantage over my rivals because street pounding used to be what I did for a living. As a former postman, I’d had professional experience of the British public’s malevolence towards anyone with the temerity to stray into their territory. In some parts of the world, householders put up signs welcoming the weary traveller. It’s not like that in Britain, where the route to the front door can be an obstacle course and the only message is a list of what’s prohibited: ‘No circulars’, ‘No salesmen’, ‘No weary travellers’. Such instructions pre-suppose that anything...

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