I’m so grateful to have become a Councillor because I’m drawn to the opportunity to do politics differently. So you might be surprised as you read on. We face a continued crisis in our politics so something different is definitely what Croydon demands.
My politics are shaped by the work I have done as a servant in our community – as a teacher working to develop our young and as a community organiser working to improving our streets. I am someone who cares and I am someone who takes this path to contribute.
As I look to serve our town, I see my role not as someone who simply speaks for, rather as someone who works with our community; works to get clear about the right action and the right direction as defined by many people. Then of course it’s about making it happen! An activist politician. Action and real commitment, not just words.
My experience of our town, is that many in our community are disconnected by false barriers: the language politicians have used; the way many people feel the council has belittled them; the fear of others in our community we do not know.
We are of course all connected, whatever our minds might tell us and what I want to do is honest battle to get clear about the real issues and develop common responsibility for resolving them.
Getting connected, that’s what we must do. I don’t say this for my ego, I say it because it’s a good thing to do! By getting clear politics is something we do together, something we discuss and decide together, take common responsibility for, we begin to feel involved. From my time in politics it’s clear that isolation doesn’t work; when they come together people know what they want.
Coming together and acting together, that’s what we’re doing with the work we’ve started. And we must move quickly, for in an age of instant gratification, instant information, we get distracted if we aren’t fleet of foot, responsive, responsible. Building on the good idea to get connected, we’re building a willingness to trust, we’re organising our resources, we’re getting it done.
This is the opposite of the old politics, of division and conflict. The old politics was happy for us to play the role of victim, it asked us to bang our heads against the brick wall of inertia; it made us angry; kept us divided; we boiled inside. When we sought action; when we sought the honest truth it was squirilled away behind walls of lazyiness and walls of arrorgance. I won’t accept a politics of conflict and abuse – it’s simply not the right way to do politics.
From my experience when people take charge, people enjoy politics. Fancy that I hear some say, enjoy politics. That’s exactly what we’re doing. Here’s three stories of how we’re making it happen..
- Margaret of 60 Brook road is taking it to the streets. She’s recruited 20 street champions who have committed to take responsibility for their rubbish; to keep their part of the street clean, report 100% of incidents. We’ll continue this effort to ensure there’s at least one on every street; we’re taking responsibility and we’re ensuring we hold ourselves and our contractor, Veolia to account.
- Ryan and other young people at St Andrew’s Church are working across the borough with their schools and their colleges to win work experience placements that pay a Living Wage; to help them close the gaps in the rollercoaster that is the journey to work. In our first year’s work they won 200 placements (unpaid). I know they won’t be satisfied until this number is doubled, then tripled.
- And Mohammed is working to meet and connect to different community institutions – the most fundamental job of all Mosque; the business; the primary school meet and work on collective solutions.
As you’ve been reading you might have been developing the question, “What is Jamie actually doing? Are the citizens not doing it for themselves?” My answer to your question is to rewrite the dictionary definition of a politician to read – a politician, someone who enables others to do politics. It’s my desire, my deep conviction for you to do politics and for me to do it with you, not for you. And in this desire, in this action you have my commitment that at all times I’ll stand with you.