Nick Burrows was a Conservative candidate for this year's European Parliament elections in Yorkshire and the Humber and was due to be monitoring the cancelled second round of the Presidential election in Afghanistan.
Having taken a part-time job in order to fight the European election campaign in June, I recently had the rude awakening of being told that although I could do as much work as I wanted, I would not be paid until April. I had become another of the Government’s savings measures.
As I contemplated the prospect of losing my home, the media was full of justification by MPs as to why they, their parents and adult children should live rent-free at taxpayers' expense. Amid this rather sad reflection of our own democracy, I leapt at the chance of monitoring the second round of the Presidential election in Afghanistan.
All commentators seem to agree that the first round of voting was plagued by wholesale fraud with the current President, Hamid Karzai, strongly implicated. Certainly the lives of 22 British servicemen had been lost trying to support Afghan democracy and the election monitoring team from the EU had been withdrawn on security grounds. A difficult situation was made worse with the murder of six UN election officials. Clearly someone did not want the second round of voting to take place.
I found myself flying to Dubai at short notice as part of a team of privately recruited election monitors. The team were to focus on the security of ballot boxes at warehouse sites, where much of the fraud in the first round is believed to have taken place. I had monitored several elections in the past but this was different.