A typical day currently starts before it ends.
As we’re in the final few months before the election, my day is filled with meeting and responding to constituents, debating issues at local meetings, and running my campaign team. That means I normally get round to reviewing the latest news and researching policy issues after a dinner with my family and an evening trip to the gym.
Invariably, I then get deep into the topic, and before I know it I’m in the small hours of tomorrow. But this is the most important election in many years and there’s no other way I’d have it: As TV star Alan Davies said, “This is an election where social justice is at stake”.
I’m lucky to have a great team and many determined volunteers. Several times a week, we fill the streets to go knocking door-to-door. It’s a great way of making sure you hear the views of the many diverse people who make up any constituency, and proactively reaching those who would not otherwise get in touch – “the silent majority” if you like. Going out with my team and volunteers is like spending time with friends – we lift each other up when we’re tired and it helps us all see the bigger picture of politics: working together as a community and acting on our values.
Through these conversations with residents and local meetings, I have learned about many serious local issues that are causing concern. Wherever possible, I support or set up campaigns to tackle these challenges. Even where all I can do is bring the issue to the attention of the right people (and maybe apply a little pressure), it’s been fantastic where it works.
For instance, it is a testimony to the great work of many local campaigners that an ill-thought-out 24-storey building in Swiss Cottage was rejected. We’ve also successfully fought for HS2 rail planning amendments and improved compensation for many Camden residents. Of course, not every campaign can be successful. Despite furious efforts, and a fairly public altercation between Boris Johnson and me, we couldn’t save Belsize Fire Station from the mayor’s cuts. We also did not succeed in our campaign to save the Crown Post Office in Swiss Cottage, which I worked on with CWU, local residents and post office staff. But if fear of failure stopped us from standing up for what we believe in, then I want no part of it.
And of course, nothing ever runs quite to plan. One thing that’s hard to predict is the media. I recently had to rearrange my schedule due to a last-minute, but fantastic, set of opportunities with the local and national press. In the span of a week, I’ve had interviews with The Times, Jewish Chronicle, the Ham and High, a local school magazine and a Bengali newspaper. Media and social media are important to me: Even with all the hours in the week, we can’t reach everyone door-to-door and of course some prefer to engage with the election and political issues through third-party journalism.
That said, the alarm has just gone for my next meeting with local residents, so I’d better get off to that!