Has Anyone Seen My Councillor? No One Here Has - and Sadly, No One Cares, except a Young Black Brixtonian from the Independent Democrats
Howe, Darcus, New Statesman (1996)
I am unable to find my local councillor. He is not dead, nor has he migrated. I have been told he is "not functioning". He stood for election to Lambeth council as a Labour Party candidate four years ago. I voted for him, so did Mrs Howe.
There was nothing special about him. He mumbled rather than spoke. But I always vote in local elections, because I am able to meet councillors on the street, at my local pub, shopping in Brixton market, even at their homes.
I tried to contact him last summer. Residents of my street hold a summer street party for the local children. Each house contributes cash and goodies. We contact companies who donate products as prizes for the raffle and the different competitions we organise for the children. It seemed an ideal opportunity to involve our local councillor. We left messages at the town hall, invited those who knew him personally to pass on our inquiries.
Only weeks ago I met the leader of the council at the pub, questioned him about the whereabouts of his colleague. He was none the wiser. The Councillor had left the Labour Party, did not resign from the council and is never seen at meetings.
A community has been disenfranchised. Even worse is the fact that not one of the constituents is particularly bothered. I did a local poll on the block where I live: no one remembered his name, what he looked like. They, by and large, voted Labour and that was that.
Whatever complaints we may have had of the workings of Lambeth council in the past, you couldn't ignore it. It has always oozed vibrancy, political debate, accusation and counter-accuSation.John Major campaigned here, so did Ted Knight, Linda Bellos and Joan Twelves. There was a substantial number of black councillors, racially aware, demanding a share of the pie for their constituents. Time and again local squabbles made national news. Personalities, party line, campaigning activity were strong currents in local politics.
Today there are three black councillors, we are bereft of personalities, there is little or no campaigning. All is quiet, tame and lame. Expectations are low. Local politics drift along in a sea of nothingness. …