I’ll keep this short as I haven’t got much time and I feel like I’ve been caught up in a whirlwind. Everything has all come at once. I have lots more work on at the college – which is great – the MA Residential Day tomorrow (also great). Oh yes, and I’m standing for selection as a local council candidate for the Labour Party on Thursday. That’s pretty great too but it’s the day after tomorrow. Oh. My. God.
This has all happened very quickly – as things tend to do in Reese-world. Basically, the selection is happening because a lovely guy called Thomas Neumark Jones, who is the current councillor for the ward of Camden Town with Primrose Hill is moving to the US and they need someone to stand in a by-election in May – I love the use of the word “with” rather than “and” as you can’t really imagine the residents of Primrose Hill being relegated to an “and”. I was out canvassing on Saturday in Primrose Hill and it really is definitely not an “and” type of neighbourhood – people like Alan Bennett, David Miliband and the controllers of both BBC1 and Radio 4 live there. I would love to live in Primrose Hill, but I live in Kentish Town, which is round the corner – sort of.
I knew the by-election was on the cards a few weeks ago but only just heard the actual date of selection last week. And I only really got my head round the fact that I had to stand up and say my piece – and lobby for it – a few days ago.
Fortunately my husband was on hand to make me some campaign materials:
I loved the slogan and put the image up on Facebook. It got a lot of love, which pleased me, shallow and meretricious person that I am. I genuinely want to become a local councillor as I care deeply about the local community and believe strongly in the importance of being an active citizen. I got bitten by the campaigning bug last year when I joined an action group that got a nursery re-opened and have carried on more recently with a campaign to save a local playcentre that seems to be working as well.
During this process I got to know people on the council well and was impressed. It’s not fashionable to big up local government, but I’m too old to care about being fashionable these days. I’ve already written about this in a previous blog, but I think we need local government more than ever. At best it can act as a shield to the worst excesses of Central Government – in my opinion Camden Council is doing a pretty good job of this, despite getting an enormous budget cut from our fat friend Mr Pickles.
So I guess I’m putting myself forward as some kind of human shield.
I have no idea whether anyone will vote for me, especially as I don’t actually live in the ward. I think standing for selection will be quite an experience and definitely character building.
I also want to puncture the narrative (pure hegemony)that suggests that we’re all powerless and no longer have a voice in the way our communities are run. Obviously councils were given a kicking in the 80s and are being starved of money at the moment, but local democracy is still there. The more of us that join in and get active, the louder our voices will become and the more chance we have of becoming heard.
I know they kicked the Occupy lot out today
But their message lives on. We are the 99 per cent and our voices do still matter.
It’s not all doom and gloom (even though it may look like it somehow).