Before you ask, no, I didn’t win a seat in the Lewisham local council elections. I came 5th I think with over 1,200 votes. However, the victory is much bigger and deeper and more meaningful. Hanging out with my Green Party mates at the vote count that went on throughout the night, it suddenly dawned on me that I had achieved (in England no less!) what I’ve wanted all my life: a sister-and-brotherhood who would fight all out for what they believe in, who would treat each other with deep respect and who would be there for the long haul.
Growing up as a bright-eyed teenager in communist Romania I always knew that was possible, since in Romania (get this Mr Farage!), people really know how to fight for each other and nobody is as alone as they are in good old England. Yet somewhere deep inside me, under the onslaught of consumer society and the desperate isolation of London life, I was not sure whether people could really come together in a meaningful way to challenge all that, in the pursuit of a bigger and better world. Now I know they can, and I hope I don’t forget it – I’m writing this blog as a reminder to myself.
Of course, the triumph was made SO much sweeter by Cllr John Coughlin winning his first election and thereby holding the historic seat of Brockley with 1,495 of the votes. That seat has been Green since 2002, and winning it means a huge amount for local residents, for the Green Party and for us activists. We go forward with a spring in our step, knowing that we are the official opposition to Labour in Lewisham, and not only because of the Brockley ward result: Greens consistently came second behind Labour in the vast majority of the wards. The share of the vote, when all numbers are crunched, will bear this out. But beyond the election results, in no particular order, this is what I will most remember from a hard-fought and hugely successful local elections campaign:
- sheltering from the pouring rain on the doorstep of a Green supporter, getting completely wet and feeling happy, alive and determined to knock on those last few doors before the big day
- distributing leaflets at Brockley station under a glorious sunset, only to be told by the majority of commuters that they didn’t need a leaflet as they had already voted Green
- talking about feminism, Greenham Common, fighting racism, the nuclear disarmament movement and ending war with some amazing female Green activists, on the margins of the vote count, just before Brockley was called
- the nail-biting suspense of waiting for the announcement of the Camden result and the email from our campaigns manager, saying ‘Sian Berry won! I’m coming over to Lewisham.’
- having an ordinary woman to woman chat with Natalie Bennett, while walking to the station after her visit to the Brockley activists
- laughing at anything and everything in Darren’s house at 3 am after the vote count
- seeing the tension drain from activist shoulders, and glimpsing the gorgeous people that they are when, for a split second, they don’t have to worry about the future of the planet, because one small battle has been well and truly won
So this is my fight: to be part of this movement and see it steadily grow in strength. And this is my victory: to be with people in the midst of the struggle, not on the sidelines.