Stand up to be counted

Councillors have a role to play in ensuring all our communities are better represented in local government.

‘If you don’t do politics, politics will do you’ – that’s how the saying goes; and there’s a reason the phrase has resonated for so long.

It’s because politics pervades practically everything we do; decision-making, communication, and bargaining are part and parcel of the everyday politics of life. At some level, we’re all involved, and what councils and councillors do is formalise these everyday politics for the betterment of communities. 

Naturally, there will be winners and losers, but where you fall on that spectrum depends on how much you give, what interventions you make, who you choose to collaborate with, and how you communicate your ideas. 

These factors and more are crucial to your success, but weaving these strands together is the agency you have to play a role in these outcomes.  

You might already know people doing these things in your community, at a youth club, as an after-school football coach, or in a separate voluntary capacity. Perhaps they already have the tools they need and are unknowingly primed to transition from the sidelines of everyday politics to the world of public service as an elected councillor. Perhaps their curiosity has led them to ask who makes the decisions that impact their life and question the process by which these changes are made. 

These people are needed, and encouragement is a great motivator – encouragement that you, as existing councillors, have the unique opportunity to provide.  

For all our communities to be represented with any degree of sincerity, politics requires grassroots engagement in councils across the country to maintain the integrity of local decision-making. 

Operation Black Vote celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, and hundreds of people have passed through our leadership programmes to become magistrates, school governors, and public officials on NHS boards and safer neighbourhood panels. 

We’ve committed to facilitating these journeys with unwavering zeal, resulting in verifiable success. In the realm of elected politics, it’s no different: we recently held an event, supported by the LGA, for councillors and other public servants looking to take the next step in their political leadership careers.

Clive Lewis MP (Lab, Norwich South), Tan Dhesi MP (Lab, Slough), Cllr Alex Yip (Con, Birmingham), Cllr Anna Rothery (Lab, Liverpool), Cllr Eartha Pond (Queen’s Park Community Council), Marsha De Cordova MP (Lab, Battersea), Helen Grant MP (Con, Maidstone and The Weald), Cllr Josh Babarinde OBE (Lib Dem, Lewes) and Mayor Marvin Rees (Lab, Bristol) are just a few of the dynamic leaders who have come through our programmes and gone on to achieve bigger and better things for black communities and society. 

It makes no difference which party you represent – Operation Black Vote is vociferously non-partisan. But it does matter that you chose to make a contribution to public life, no matter how great or small. 

Our only ask is that you encourage others to stand up to be counted!

Author

To find out more about Operation Black Vote visit their website. The LGA’s Be A Councillor campaign offers support for local campaigns encouraging people from all backgrounds to put themselves forward for election. Join the conversation on Twitter @beacouncillor. The LGA’s next weekender event for black, Asian and minority ethnic councillors is on 19-20 February. Email grace.collins@local.gov.uk

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