"What we're planning to do," said Mike Cattrell when he rang last week, "is to get as many top signatures as possible - people like Melvyn and Stephen and Jonathan and your own good self - and then buy a half-page ad in the Guardian and see what sort of response we get." Of course, what Mike Cattrell was actually telling me was that he hadn't so far managed to recruit Melvyn or Stephen or Jonathan to his new Security with Justice campaign and so was now desperately trying to make up the numbers with a few D–list pundits.

He deserved some luck. It seemed that Security with Justice had the well intentioned aim of highlighting the Labour Government's outrageous attempts to use threats to security as a way of frightening people into abandoning their hard–earned judicial rights.

Hard to argue with that. But I still did not hesitate for a second before saying a big 'No' to his invitation. No, I didn't want my name to appear in another list. And no, I didn't want to be a Friend or an Associate or an Honorary Member of Security and Justice or any other worthy organisation.

Mike was unlucky. He was simply the latest victim of my new resolution to drastically prune my good causes portfolio. I don't know how it happened but somehow over the last two decades I have become an almost clinically compulsive signer and subscriber. In a couple of cases it seems difficult to believe that the organisation to which I am still formally committed is any longer functioning. It is just about possible that Librarians Against Apartheid has extended its remit to bibliographic racial discrimination outside South Africa. But the same generalising tendency can hardly be allowed to such other historically rooted grouplets as Stop the Newbury By–Pass or even Direct Action Against Rave Legislation.

My final letter to the bank cancelled 14 subscriptions and effected an annual saving of nearly £75. Neither was that the end of the matter. I then turned to my honorary positions. Within one hour I had zapped off 12 email resignations. Honorary fellowships and associateships and memberships of everything from Freedom to Roam to Boycott Israeli Fruit fell away like autumn leaves. Suddenly I felt almost Adamic in my organisational nakedness. Affiliated to almost nobody. An honorary nothing.

What initially prompted this cull was an email I received last month from Rebecca Hurwitz asking if I'd let my name go forward for her Jews for Ken campaign. "What we want to do," she wrote, "is to show that a large number of Jews respect Ken Livingstone's history of anti–racism and resent recent attempts to pillory him by such unrepresentative reactionary bodies as the British Board of Deputies. We're well on our way to compiling a long list of distinguished signatures and then we want to take out a half–page ad in the Guardian and see what sort of response we get."

My one–line return email read: "But I'm not Jewish!" She replied instantly. "Laurie, I know you're not Jewish. You're not gay either, but that doesn't stop you from being an Honorary Associate of that group up in Manchester. What is it called? The Gay and Lesbian Federation? Well, we'd now like you to show the same radical eclecticism and become an honorary Jew. Go on. If you don't join us, we'll be the only radical organisation you haven't signed up to in the last twenty years."

That did it. I suddenly saw myself in a new and unflattering light. No longer the torch–bearer of iconoclasm, the scourge of intellectual hypocrisy, I had become instead mere target practice for Banner Wavers Anonymous. I'd turned into the social activists' male escort, a kind of mental sperm donor to the generic campaign bank.

I mailed back immediately and told Rebecca that, tempting though it was to add Jew to my alarmingly capacious list of other dubious crusading identities, I wouldn't be joining Jews for Ken in any capacity. It felt curiously cleansing.

But the pleasure was short–lived. Yesterday my phone rang before breakfast. A man called Harold Jacobs introduced himself. "I understand," he said, "That you refused to join Jews For Ken. Congratulations." "It was nothing," I said. "It was not nothing," said Mr Jacobs, "It was a courageous decision. Such a big courageous decision in fact that we'd very much like to now offer you an honorary associateship of JAARIAC." "JAARIAC?" "That's right. Jews Against Anti–Semitic Remarks in Any Context. What we're trying to do is collect a list of top signatures and then buy a half–page ad in the Guardian and see what sort of response we get."