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A Green Voice for Southwark

Eleanor Margolies is standing up for Camberwell and Peckham

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Hustings

London Green Party hustings

I wasn’t able to attend the full hustings on Saturday 16 March because I had a long-standing work commitment – but Caroline Russell, the chair, kindly read out statements from candidates who couldn’t attend. Below is my statement (with some added links) and there’s a windswept video here.

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I’m really sorry that I can’t be with you this afternoon. I’m just down the road at the Globe Theatre, where I’ll be describing costumes, sets, rude gestures and sword fights – for blind and partially-sighted people. Normally I’d be able to swap with a colleague, but Saturday 16 March is ‘Disabled Access Day’. There are inclusive events in practically every London theatre and museum – which is great! – but it means everyone I know is working today, so I couldn’t get away.

I’m also sorry because I enjoy taking part in hustings – well, most of the time! I like hearing unfamilar views and experiences, thinking on my feet, and having an opportunity to put across Green Party policies to non-members who might be hearing about the four-day week or basic income for the first time. Last April, as co-chair of Southwark Green Party, I spoke alongside other party leaders at a hustings in Southwark Cathedral – a beautiful, if rather intimidating, location.

So, why do I think I will make a good MEP? The current Green MEPs have an amazing reputation for hard work, detailed scrutiny of legislation and researching and writing reports that lead to action. For example, Sian Berry has said that a report called ‘Hothouses’ produced by Green MEPs fed directly into current London Assembly policy to insulate homes properly. My background in research and writing means I have the skills and the tenacity to make technical information understandable and to show how it relates to everyday life.

I’m writing this on Friday 15 March as images of school strikers are flooding in – not just in capital cities but in more than 2000 places across the world. It’s the duty of elected politicians to respond to the call from the students for rapid and genuine action on climate change. I’m looking to the European Parliament to do that. To avert catastrophic climate breakdown and tackle the power of the planet-eating monster corporations, we need to work together.

We know what we need to do. Ban fracking and coal mining – invest in solar and wind instead. No new runways – affordable long-distance trains instead. Ban toxic diesel and replace it with electric buses, cargo bikes, cycle networks and walkable, tree-lined streets. For London, this investment would mean creating thousands of new green jobs: insulating draughty homes and installing solar panels on every block of council flats, for starters. As a campaigner on air pollution, cycling and social housing, I’ve been inspired by seeing good ideas in action in cities across Europe and have brought them into the conversation in the UK. I promise to work hard in the coming months to tell the story of the EU’s successes and to show why we need Greens in the room! Please make me your first choice for the list.

 

 

Eleanor Margolies shines at South Camberwell hustings

A councillor-worthy performance at the hustings on 8 October saw Green Party candidate Eleanor Margolies’ odds for winning the by-election slashed, while Labour party candidate Octavia Lamb struggled to make an impact.

Photo of the hustings panel
Eleanor Margolies, Octavia Lamb, Linda Craig, Ben Maitland, Chris Mottau, Stephen Govier

All five candidates in the South Camberwell by-election participated in the well-attended hustings at the Albrighton Centre, expertly chaired by Linda Craig. The candidates responded to questions from the audience about the Dulwich Hamlet FC grounds, the future of Peckham Rye station and what they would do first, once elected.

It was pleasing to see that all candidates had good knowledge of local issues and that there was common ground on many themes. Fascinatingly, even Conservative candidate Chris Mottau spoke out in favour of divesting Southwark Council’s pension funds from fossil fuels, after Eleanor Margolies raised this in her opening presentation. Octavia Lamb, last to speak on this subject, could only offer that she “personally” supported the aims of Fossil Free Southwark, but did not say how she would persuade her Labour colleagues at the council, who have so far ignored calls for divestment.

Liberal Democrat candidate Ben Maitland and the All People’s Party’s Stephen Govier repeatedly stated that Southwark Council does not need another Labour councillor, while Chris Mottau compared the Labour dominance on the council to a one-party state. Eleanor Margolies quoted a report from the Electoral Reform Society raising concern about the integrity of councils where one party holds on to power for a long time. She cited the achievements of Green councillors on councils in Lambeth and Lewisham, as well as the Green Party’s success in getting Southwark to pay its staff London Living Wage – highlighting the difference that one Green councillor can make.

Eleanor Margolies speaking at the hustings
Eleanor Margolies at the South Camberwell hustings

Throughout the evening there was no convincing argument from Octavia Lamb to persuade the audience of the need to elect another Labour councillor on top of the 47 already there. She stated that she was passionate about casework, and that it was important to consult with the community. When the council’s track record on communication with citizens was raised, she could only concede that there was room for improvement, while Eleanor Margolies offered several constructive suggestions on how Southwark Council could provide a better service.

South Camberwell has an interesting by-election ahead. These hustings have certainly given voters something to think about.

Text by Remco van der Stoep. Photos by Nick Hooper.

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