Losing my position on the National Assembly for Wales on May 3rd has led to a reappraisal of my life. Over the next month, major personal decisions have to be taken. The first big commitment was made today. This afternoon, The Campaign for the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales elected me as its new President.
When I was first approached, I was a bit doubtful (from the CPRW's standpoint rather than my own!). Been a passive member for over 20 years - but firstly, I still regard myself as an 'active' politician. Could be a problem if I become a candidate. Secondly, on the key issue of planning policy, I don't entirely see eye-to-eye with the CPRW line. And thirdly, my idea of protecting rural Wales has as much to do with culture, language and 'community' as it has to do with landscape - important as that is. But I said all this at last year's Annual Meeting when I was the guest speaker - and they still asked me. It strikes me that if the membership were willing to 'give it a go' - so should I. After all, every one of us has a passion for the well being of rural Wales. I reckon it'll work out OK.
Its going to be a challenge though. Mrs D laughed when I said that my main role will be to spread calm and unity. "Well, that's a first", she muttered. But passions can run high in voluntary bodies and keeping things calm is not always easy. Being a Conservative through the 1990s taught me that learning to disagree without falling out is the key to any successful organisation.
The two policy areas which are likely to cause the fat to boil over are wind farms ( where I'm a sceptic without being absolutist) and planning (where I am keen on much greater use of exception sites, outside of designated development zones). But for me , the key point is that even if I am outvoted on a regular basis, I won't lose respect or regard for those who take a different view. I'm really pleased with my new position. So we went down to the Lion in the village for supper and Sancerre to celebrate.