Get to know David Parton, Labour’s candidate for Vincent Square on Westminster City Council, as we continue our Meet the Candidate series.
Why are you standing to be a councillor in your local community?
I’ve been a member of the Labour party for a decade now, and being active within Labour is now well and truly part of who I am. Labour is a family and a community to me and standing to be a councillor is a natural extension of my commitment to Labour values and the labour movement.
I’ve always been active in my community. Whether that’s volunteering as a Member of the Youth Parliament, organising to block harmful gambling stores opening on my street, or launching petitions to bring down racist statues. But Westminster has its own unique issues that I feel passionate about and able to change for the better.
I also know that the electoral map and demographics of Westminster are changing in favour of progressive politics, and I wanted to play my part in finally installing a Labour council in Westminster.
Tell us about the ward you are standing in, such as the biggest concerns on the doorstep and what makes it unique.
Vincent Square is the ward I work in, and I think of Vincent Square as a little village… in Zone 1, central London. It’s nestled in a triangle with Parliament in one corner, Victoria station in another and Tate Britain in another. But despite its super central location, it has a significant residential population forming a tale of two cities, with affluent mansion buildings often just around the corner from sizable social and council housing blocks.
Many residents are proud to call Vincent Square home, but many are very concerned about rising homelessness and rough-sleeping across the ward, as well as anti-social behaviour, vandalism and drug-dealing. Building repairs and maintenance issues, alongside concerns over the climate crisis and cutting CO2 emissions and air pollution, also dominate conversations on the doorstep.
And while many voters don’t think highly of the Conservative councillors’ action on these issues, the Tories have always performed well in Vincent Square. Despite this, Labour only came within 300 votes of winning in 2018, despite gaining 500 additional votes in that election. Plus the losing Labour candidates got the highest number of votes for any losing Labour candidates across Westminster in 2018. That is why I am out campaigning nearly every day to elect Labour councillors at last for Vincent Square.
How did you find the selection process, and do you think there are ways it can be improved to better support young members?
The selection process for Vincent Square was not the smoothest. Despite other target wards in Westminster being selected back in July 2021 - which allowed the candidate to become embedded within the ward - in Vincent Square, administrative blunders and errors during the process meant I wasn’t selected as the candidate until November 2021.
I think more could always be done to support young members throughout the process generally, from encouraging them to stand in the first place, to providing them tips and insights on how hustings work, as well as highlighting the importance of local connections in getting selected.
But that support shouldn’t end once selected. Young members need to be provided with support organising their campaign, building a campaign team and planning the strategy for the election. I know this happens in some places to great effect, but the fact this doesn’t happen everywhere means young, enthusiastic and capable candidates won’t be able to reach their potential.
What would be your advice to Young Fabians who are considering standing for local government?
Do it. Absolutely, do it. You can be the change you want to see in your community, and don’t let a lack of experience or your relative youth hold you back. You will have unique skills and qualities that will be invaluable to your local neighborhood.
How can YF members help your campaign between now and May?
The road to Westminster City Council is paved through Vincent Square. Labour cannot take the council without winning the ward. Coming out and helping us campaign on the ground is essential and will make all the difference on the doorstep.
Talking to voters and delivering heaps and heaps of election materials is the best way for us to turn this ward red, and if you can, joining us out in Vincent Square will have the biggest impact. Message me on Twitter for more information on when and where we will be campaigning between now and polling day if you’re interested. But if you can’t come and join us, you can amplify our message on social media to help spread the word of how Labour can change Westminster for the better.
If you are a Young Fabian standing in the May local elections, please email our Blog Editor Jimmy at [email protected] if you’d be interested in being featured here on the blog.