Naranee Ruthra-Rajan

Bright Green is offering all the candidates standing to be on the Green Party’s list for the 2024 London Assembly election the opportunity to set out why they are standing and their vision for London. This article is published as part of that series. The full series of articles can be found here.

I’m standing to be selected for the London Assembly List because I know as Londoners, we deserve a more imaginative and hopeful approach to addressing the issues our city faces, and I know the Green Party is the party to do this.

My career has spanned education and the arts, which (at their best) are about encouraging questioning, critical thinking and creativity. Whether in my former job as a primary school teacher or my current role in a London-based charity, I have always focused energetically on encouraging people to engage critically with ideas and challenges, not finding fault for the sake of it, but to identify answers to problems and to imagine a hopeful future where real, big, exciting changes become possible in people’s lives.

I don’t say this is an easy thing to do. I know from experience it’s hard to find the space and the energy to work in the world when it is as troubled as it seems right now. To then find the head space to imagine how it could be better in the future can feel impossible and overwhelming.

However, coming from two sectors that are hugely underfunded, often undervalued and where time is always tight, where the pressure to deliver against targets is high, I know that change is incremental and achievable and happens every day. And I know that it takes an imaginative approach to make that change happen even though it can feel like you’re swimming against the tide.

These challenges are part of politics too. For too long, the old parties have been allowed to treat the problems we face as inevitable facts of life, or a can to be incessantly kicked down the road. But, as our current City Hall Greens (Sian Berry, Zack Polanski and Caroline Russell) have shown, there are realistic alternatives that with imagination, persistence and hard work can be communicated and translated into policies that inspire people and change their lives. I am really excited to join and campaign for a team that has already seen success in expanding ULEZ, getting the Mayor to support a Universal Basic Income and declaring a climate emergency. There is plenty more to be done. But we can do it.

Over the past few years, I’ve learnt what it takes to ensure we have Greens in the room and around the table. For two years, I co-chaired London’s largest local party – West Central London (WCL) – building up our electoral campaigning as a team across three boroughs and the City of London for the London Assembly elections in 2021. and setting up our first two target to win campaigns for 2022. While it was hard work, (and I ended up having to replace a pair of trainers!) it was great to work with a brilliant team of volunteers to get our messages out through regular leafleting and door knocking, finding out more about local people’s needs. West Central London had never run a target campaign before but now there are teams in place listening to people and ready to represent them.

Last summer, I was proud to manage Zack Polanski’s successful Deputy Leadership campaign, focusing on the intersectionality of the different forms of justice that we as a party are fighting for. And that work really paid off! Zack is already doing great work presenting our views in the media, providing clear inspiring alternative ideas to the usual lines spouted by the old parties. And turning up to countless Action Days and local party meetings to listen to members and campaign alongside them around the country.

A key thing I’ve learnt through my work, whether as an employee or volunteer is how change can only happen when people are truly heard and empowered to participate in finding the solutions. We need everyone’s unique contribution in order to succeed, which is why diversity and genuine respect are so important. I’m excited to be standing with #GreenTeam2024, all of whom are committed to campaigning on an inclusive platform. We need to get better at representing the diversity of London and I’d be proud to be the first ever Sri Lankan Green candidate for the London Assembly.

My priority for London as an Assembly Member would be to identify the best ways to make this a genuinely child-friendly city. As a teacher, I know that by meeting the needs of the most vulnerable we improve everyone’s lives. Children and young people have had an incredibly rough ride in the last decade. I’ve seen first hand the many issues children and the adults that work with them have faced. And almost all of them are rooted in inequality. Without more equal access to green spaces and cultural opportunities, clean, breathable air, safe and affordable housing, and a transport system that is cheaper and truly accessible for everyone we will not build the future our children deserve.

I’m committed to working for a Greener, more equal London and want to be part of a diverse team demonstrating what a large group of Greens on the London Assembly can do to solve the problems of today and to build a city fit for the future. I can’t wait to be part of the team representing a positive, constructive approach.  Please give me one of your votes for the list – thank you, let’s make London Green!

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