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‘I don’t have a single councillor colleague in Cambridge or the county joint administration who isn’t fighting against climate breakdown and social injustice’

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This week an email landed in my county councillor inbox ‘warning’ me that someone is ‘investigating’ my links to Extinction Rebellion.

The email, in a threatening tone, claimed that ‘someone’ has found ‘damning photos and information’ which they plan to share.

Leaving aside the attempts to intimidate me why didn’t the person just ask me about my involvement with climate protests?

In the month in which the COP27 UN chief stated that “the deadly impacts of climate change are here and now,” loss and damage can no longer be swept under the rug.

Cambridgeshire Labour Cllr Hilary Cox Condron – Arbury

It is a moral imperative; Just Stop Oil protesters are having their homes raided; farmers in Fenland are worried that their chipping potato harvest may not survive the mild November (crop insecurity on our doorsteps) – is anyone is still burying their head in the sand about the devastation of the climate crisis?

Are they?

As an artist and activist, I have been involved in campaigning for years.

I am enormously proud to have been at the first Extinction Rebellion Cambridge meetings, to have set up the Cambridge XR arts group, taken part in the first Rebellion at Hyde Park, been a Red Rebel, led community climate talks and run creative workshops at galleries and festivals.

It was a call for government and billionaire media moguls to tell the truth about the climate breakdown.

These protests played a part in changing worldwide narrative and action. And I met some of the most knowledgeable, inspiring, and loving humans I will ever meet.

Cambridgeshire Labour Cllr Hilary Cox Condron – Arbury

To anyone saying that being involved in protests is damning.: the Tolpuddle Martyrs, the Suffragettes, the Levellers standing up for workers’ rights, the right to vote….

Once the narrative about climate change started to shift (though I’m still shocked at how many divisive distractions are thrown our way) my direction changed as I thought about how best to try and play my part in making changes.

I was working as an artist with Transition Cambridge, Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination and Cambridge Doughnut when I read an article by the Bristol Doughnut Economics group saying (and I paraphrase) ‘if you are a community artist reading this, stand in local politics – we need more creatives’.

So, after much deliberation, knowing some incredible friends working as councillors, being surrounded by inspiring community groups and grass roots movements, and equipped with a blissful ignorance of the gruelling task ahead, I thought I might be able to offer something, and I decided to stand.

Cambridgeshire Labour Cllr Hilary Cox Condron – Arbury

Being a county councillor who has been involved in environmental and social justice protests is not a conflict of interests – it is an extension of interest.

I don’t have a single councillor colleague in Cambridge or the county joint administration who isn’t fighting against climate breakdown and social injustice.

But it’s hard going. I’ve recently heard how ‘it’s alright for *them* and how I have my ‘minions’ working for me. Ha!! If only!!

It is really telling the lack of information and education about local politics and the painful way it has been forged to operate.

Cambridgeshire Labour Cllr Hilary Cox Condron – Arbury  ARTICLE CREDIT: Cambridge Independent 

That councillors are seen as something other than local residents and not seen as people who have had to give up time, income, and a social life – to represent and try and improve the places in which they live.

So – here I am in 2022.

Having always been freelance and working outside of systems I find myself now well and truly captured in a system that is flawed and frustratingly slow.

A system that demands constant discussion, deliberation, collaboration, reflection and (that most difficult process) compromise.

A system that is attempting to function in a time of multiple perma-crisis whilst the Government continues to cut local council funding as we work to try and change the circumstances that perpetuate poverty, sickness, and environmental devastation.

Cambridgeshire Labour Cllr Hilary Cox Condron – Arbury ARTICLE CREDIT: Cambridge Independent 

Do I feel at home in the county council? Do I feel at home in the Labour Party? Very often not. Am I working alongside diligent, caring, passionate and determined colleagues? That I know to be true. I definitely am.

There is no one easy solution that is for sure.

But – we persevere.

My email is Hilary.coxcondron@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Cambridgeshire Labour Cllr Hilary Cox Condron – Arbury

 

 

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