With the last bit of canvassing and leafleting done, I have a couple of hours to reflect on what being a Green Party candidate has brought to my life.
First things first: I have fallen in love with many of the people in the party. It has been both a privilege and a humbling experience getting to know people who have worked day and night (it seems) for the past 20 years to represent their local community and build up the Green vote; people (not just one!) who upon being made redundant, threw their all into the campaign instead of looking out for number 1; the Young Greens who sweep like a welcome whirlwind through the party and the UK political landscape, indomitable, inspiring and supremely cool; Jean Lambert who years ago found the time to talk to me, a mere visitor, at the European Parliament, about international development, and did it with incredible competence; the inspiring friend who 3 years ago told me he was determined to become a local councillor and has never wavered in his commitment. The list as they say could go on…
Then again, I fell in love with the whole party. Its principled stand on so many issues: inequality; living wage; the environment; immigration; plus seeing Caroline Lucas arrested over fracking and then winning her case was a definite highlight.
But most of all, I have learned something that an old friend of mine, a union organiser, once taught me. That it is not through big speeches, or simply through leaflets, or through attacking others that we win the big battles. Instead, what counts is the painstaking organising and hard graft; the building a movement and sticking with it over the long haul; the person to person relationships, the listening, the respect for one another – these are the real gains, and these are the things that actually change the world.
I will never forget the lovely German woman who befriended me as a total party newbie and came to my house and understood how to draw me in and get me leafleting; the gorgeous Algerian guy who personally asked me to stand as an MEP candidate; the lovely election agent who made sure my candidate form was filled in properly, and made me do it again in case a tiny wrong detail would invalidate it; my amazing fellow candidates in Lewisham who are open and real with me every time I meet them; the guy who organised countless ‘local election bootcamps’ at the party conference and spent seemingly hours answering questions afterwards; the ‘high-ranking’ working class Green activist who never forgets my name; and the couple of lines addressed to party activists at the bottom of many an internal newsletter: ‘don’t forget to be kind to each other’.
This is why I firmly believe in the Green Party of England and Wales and why I am not surprised in our popularity soaring in the polls. I know that we are here to stay and that we will by and by become a big political force in this country and beyond. It is because we know how to organise.
I can’t wait til tomorrow and the weekend, not because we may win a lot of seats in the local and European elections (although that will be encouraging) but because after so many weeks of campaigning I finally get to see my ‘running mates’ at the vote counts. That will be worth the wait.
#2mycomrades (you know who you are)