Magid Magid

Image credit: YouTube screengrab

In this year’s European elections, the Greens won an unprecedented seven seats in the European Parliament. Among those seven was the closest thing to a Green Party celebrity – Magid Magid. With 74,000 followers on Twitter, and 25,000 on Instagram as well as an ever growing media presence, Magid has become one of the most recognisable Green Party figures in the public eye – perhaps second only to Caroline Lucas.

Beginnings

Magid’s first dalliance with politics came from his time as a student. In 2012, he was elected president of Hull University Union. He was elected on a platform of improving sports facilities and served for one term in the role.

He later returned to Sheffield – the city he spent most of his childhood in – and joined the Green Party of England and Wales in 2014. Two years later, he stood in the Sheffield City Council elections. He was elected as a city councillor for Broomhill and & Sharrow Vale ward, alongside two Labour councillors.

In 2017, Magid engaged in a political stunt – the kind he has become infamous for. He ran the Sheffield half-marathon dressed as a tree to protest the Labour council’s policies of tree felling. Shortly following this, his affable, naturally humorous charisma was brought to a wider audience as he featured in Channel 4’s reality show Hunted. 

Going mainstream

Everything changed in 2018. A single photo transformed Magid into a political phenomenon overnight. The smiling, squatting mayoral portait went viral, making the new Magid the most famous Lord Mayor in the country overnight.

Quick to realise the potential impact of his new found fame, Magid used his higher profile to advance political causes and draw new people into politics. In July 2018 he ceremonially banned Donald Trump from the city of Sheffield, declaring him a ‘wasteman’. A month later, he wrote to the Home Secretary in phonetic Yorkshire dialect about the Orgreave Justice Campaign. At around the same time, he invited his Twitter followers to see Mama Mia 2 with him at the cinema. Reports have suggested some people travelled from as far afield as Southampton to join him.

The latter of these was part of a trend of Magid using his platform to shift the norms of political behaviour as well as bring new people into politics. He appointed a rapper as Sheffield’s first ever poet laureate, encouraged people from the city to accompany him on his official duties, and at his last full council meeting as Lord Mayor, had councillors dancing to Somali music.

From Sheffield to Brussels

After a unique term as Sheffield’s Lord Mayor, Magid set his sights on Brussels – deciding to fight the Yorkshire and Humber region for the Green Party in the European elections.

His campaign naturally attracted significant interest and attention from the media, as well as the electorate. He engaged on “Tour de Magid” – a series of talks and events across the region, pushing his message clear messages of stopping Brexit, fighting Brexit and supporting migration.

That messaging worked. Magid was ultimately elected as an MEP, taking the Greens’ first ever seat in Yorkshire and Humber. After winning his seat, Magid declared that he would step up his campaigns against the far-right across Europe.

On his election, the Metro titled their write up “Britain’s coolest Lord Mayor is now Europe’s coolest MEP”. Few would disagree.

Chris Jarvis

About Chris Jarvis

Chris is a writer and campaigner. He has been active in the student movement for almost a decade - working for two years as an elected Sabbatical Officer at the Union of UEA Students, and for two and a half years at student activist network People & Planet. A Green Party member since 2010, Chris has served on the Executive Committee of both the Young Greens and the Green Party of England and Wales. In 2014, Chris co-founded the progressive online publication The Norwich Radical, and in 2018 joined the writing team of The Canary. Chris is currently a Press and Communications Officer at We Own It.