I am a newcomer to politics…

Oscar Gillespie at the WI and CCF stall at the Strawberry Fair 2015

Oscar Gillespie

I am a newcomer to politics – I have been involved with CCF and Transition for a few years but it felt to me that things were not happening quickly enough. The environmental crisis is building and building, and despite “the sixth great extinction” being caused by human actions, we seem to stay in the same destructive, unimaginative rut.

I decided that the best way to make a difference was to volunteer for the Green Party, and I went to a social in 2013 with the idea of giving out leaflets. I agreed to stand as a candidate, and in 2014 I stood in Abbey Ward, coming second. I did my share of deliveries as well, giving out the Green World magazine in Castle Ward, but it was unsatisfying to visit all these houses and not to have a discussion with the inhabitants. Market Ward was our best result in 2014, and when the time came to throw our hats in the ring for the contest, I made a bid for Market Ward. I live just outside the ward, but spend a lot of time there, being a member of the Buddhist Centre community.

Being a general election year, this contest had a much higher profile and we had a great number of high-profile Green Party people visiting Cambridge to help. This was a fascinating opportunity to learn more about land rights, feminism, TTIP, neonicotinoids, the arms trade. These are all causes that I now feel strongly about. I had some training to help me with public speaking – I’m extremely shy and was initially terrified of the idea.

The things that people were asking questions about most frequently on their doorsteps were about transport and air pollution. Nuclear energy was a hot topic, with many people wanting to vote Green but disagreeing with their attitude to nuclear. I persuaded some of these to join the party and influence our policies democratically.

We went to the local election count afterwards with some bruised hope, and the Market Ward was the last to be announced. The other wards had some very good second and third place results for the Greens, which showed the increase in voter sympathy and the excellent work done by other local candidates. The piles of ballot papers for myself, and the Labour and Lib Dem candidates were looking extremely similar in height. The first count showed me 3 votes ahead of Labour, and of course they demanded a full recount, who wouldn’t? As chance would have it, the recount only moved me further into the lead, opening up a 7 point lead. Still close enough to be the closest three-way tie in Cambridge electoral history.

Now I’m extremely busy and seem to have a million things to do as a councillor, but I’m happy that I’ve provided a little bit of hope to many people. I’ll be a councillor for four years, and for the first year I will prioritise sustainable food and reduction of carbon emissions.

Oscar can be contacted at oscar.gillespie@cambridge.gov.uk

More information about the Cambridge Green Party.

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