Those of you who like House of Cards will find this is an exciting time to be in London. We’re approaching a Mayoral election next week, and this past weekend I’ve been out gracing the doorsteps of London with friends and other activists representing over 6 regional groups from around the world.
We’ve had an opportunity to hear from Mark Field (MP for Westminster) and Lord Popat, both of whom had a personal story to share about the opportunities that Britain has given to refugees seeking a better home where to thrive and contribute their gifts, and Lee Scott, whose personal experience of anti-semitism from the Labour party is incredibly poignant at present.
We all believe that London is the greatest city in the world, and we all share the desire that it remains so. It was a bunch that couldn’t be further away from the caricature of the Conservatives that seems better suited to a dinner party conversation in Bridget Jones.
If you have ever met Zac Goldsmith in person, he is the loveliest man and as far away as possible from a haughty upper class toff as it gets when you actually are upper class. He didn’t even make a fuss about being stopped by a drunken friend of mine asking for a picture in the gents at conference. In comparison, I’m Lady Mary Crawley at her worst.
I knocked on doors with a British woman of West Indian descent, which must have been quite a sight if you opened the door to us. Rather than let our differences separate us in the game of identity politics, we let our commonalities bring us together to back someone else that, whatever his looks, represents us at the top table.
I’ve always been an outspoken supporter of Zac, because at times it feels like we are the only two people who are willing to take the environment back from the Left, and I believe his plan to carry on the work Boris Johnson has done for the past few years, as much as I dislike him and it pains me to admit to it, is the best option for a city where dreams can come true.
Maybe it’s a romanticised view, but my London is a young, buzzing city full of aspirational people. I came here an ugly duckling in my early twenties, shy and insecure, too townie for the provinces but not quite a sophisticated woman yet. 4 years of afternoon teas, wine bars and refining my talent for spotting gastro-pubs in rough areas later, I’m more of a swan, swirling around in M&S dresses while getting incredibly annoyed at tourists slowing down the flow of pedestrians on the street. I’m about to sit my exams at university, where I’m expecting at least a 2:1, and travelling around the country to give workshops to other students. I’m working on a business plan for my first proper entrepreneurial project, and I’m surrounded by a lot of other people doing the same. It’s true that not everyone is Cinderella in the story, but I believe a city that is thriving is better positioned to help those left behind than one in atrophy.
This city has given a lot to me, and it’s only fair that on May the 5th I’ll be giving something back to it.