London Mayor: Meet the volunteers

In the third part of our series on the London Mayoral Election 2016, we look at the ordinary people who’s energy, enthusiasm and dedication could well decide who controls City Hall.

EastLondonLines spoke to four volunteers across the political divide in order to understand the reasons behind their decisions to get out and campaign for the next London mayor.

While general participation is worryingly low, not just in London but across the UK; the passion and dedication shown by these volunteers should encourage and inspire those worried by political apathy.


Niroshan Sirisena, 35, Teacher/DJ


I have done door-to-door for this campaign since before Christmas. I used to be a Labour party member a long while back, but I kind of fell out of love with labour because of the Iraq war and tuition fees. A friend of mine called me last summer and said come and do some phone banking for Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership election, so I started to do that. I walked into the phone bank and saw my best mate, which I didn’t expect, I saw lots of people form all different walks of life in London society, and I thought yes this is where I need to be. I think it is incredibly important for people to get involved in politics; it gives politics a face. I think going out and campaigning whether its door-to-door is the only way to take politics outside of its very insular shell. People, including myself, would for years say that these people are all the same, and the fact is they are. But in the last 12 months, we have had Jeremy Corbyn come in. I think for the first time in my 35 years, in terms of issues and politics, we have an alternative to what is in power. So I think it is important to get out there and show people that actually for the first time in over 30 years there is a credible alternative.


Alice Palau, 32, Executive Assistant


The reason why I have come out to do some canvassing and campaigning for Zac goldsmith is because I actually believe in his policies, especially things like making the city more green and housing, crime and transport. These are things that matter to Londoners the most. The reason why I want to help is because politics matters to my generation, and all generations, in what the future of our London depends on. I travel into the city everyday by train and bus and Boris has been brilliant. I do think Zac, not only with his abilities to articulate what his views and policies are, but also I think that he has the intellect to follow up on his pledges. He has really read up on the problems of crime and transport. I want to tell people to stop focusing on Zac’s background, his accent, his wealth and start listening to what he is saying in his policies and promises. If you do not see yourself as a discriminator then stop being a hypocrite, Sadiq is his competitor but has blatantly avoided answering vital questions that our city’s success depends upon. Watch them both, listen to what they say and make your mind up on that and nothing else. He has done amazing work as an MP for Richmond, and I believe that he will be a great successor to Boris.


Natasha Kapadia, 49, Charity Worker


This is my first time volunteering, I suppose I have been lazy, even though I talk to people and I am fascinated by how people think about things. I have never really considered going out for a specific candidate before, have never felt as inspired. I think the fact that Sadiq is a BME candidate is for me a huge thing. Not just because he is BME, because if he was standing for another party then I wouldn’t be supporting him. I feel very strongly about the whole issue of representation and the whole diversity thing is a big thing at the moment. So I’m very concerned that we the taxpayers have made an investment in the country and we don’t feel represented. But I also feel because of the result of last year, it was such a crushing defeat Jeremy Corbyn, I want to give him a chance, I am not concerned about his policies because I am a huge supporter of his policies, but I am concerned that people wont engage with his polices.

I am hopeful, because in five years time people will be so pushed into the ground by this lot, that maybe they will want someone completely different. I always wonder why people are putting up with the fact that we have got a group of millionaires telling us people that we all have to suffer financially, when none of them are suffering in any shape or form, what are they sacrificing? They are not even sacrificing their salaries. That is just a mentality I do not subscribe to.


Roman, 24, Student of International Relations


I think, first and foremost, London is an amazing city and you only want the best of it, you want it to improve as much as possible and I think Zac Goldsmith is the ideal candidate to push forward on Boris Johnson’s achievements. I think you can see from Khan’s television interviews that he doesn’t really know what he is talking about; he avoids answering questions on certain things. I just really don’t think that Sadiq Khan is the right person for a great city like London. I have volunteered before, more on local campaigns, nothing as big as London-wide campaigns but this is a great way to get to know more about different peoples’ ideas and views. This is not my first day volunteering for Zac, I started when he was running for candidacy and people did not really know about him or what he was about. But since then the responses have really evolved, people are now recognising his name, recognising his policies and his ambitions; and I really think that people are starting to favour Zac Goldsmith as the right candidate for London’s Mayor. I think the priority is what is best for London, and having spoken to many people I know that their main concern is housing across London on a consistent trend. Also transport is very important, and with the weak arguments of Sadiq Khan which are pathetic. Simply, Zac is a great candidate for all these things, and I completely agree with him on the extension of Heathrow.

Tomorrow: we’ll look at what many feel will be the election’s defining policy point, how to solve the housing crisis.

See other articles in the series here:

Meet the candidates

Who really elects the London Mayor?

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