Interviewing Magid Magid, the Sheffield Mayor Looking To Become Your Next MEP

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May 5th saw the conclusion of the Tour de Yorkshire, an annual cycling event that always guarantees large crowds and plenty of attention throughout Yorkshire. Five days later, the Tour de Magid began. While not as well-known as its cycling counterpart, it nevertheless has generated huge excitement, particularly on social media. Magid Magid is the 29-year-old former Lord Mayor of Sheffield and the lead Green Party candidate for the European elections in the Yorkshire and Humber region. Born in Somalia on the eve of the country’s civil war, Magid and his mother fled the country when he was six and came to Sheffield in 1994. He studied aquatic zoology at the University of Hull, rising to become the President of the Student Union. After university, he returned to Sheffield, where he was elected as a councillor in 2016.

Image Credit: Magid Magid’s Facebook page.

The Tour de Magid is travelling all across the region, giving Magid a chance to connect with voters and for voters to hear what their Green Party candidate has to say. I caught up with Magid while he was visiting Otley and had the chance to talk with him about his political background, the recent local elections as well as his chances of winning a European Parliament seat on the 23rdMay.

Q: Thank you so much for your time Magid. Firstly, how did you get into politics? What’s your political backstory?

Magid: Funnily enough, I got involved in politics at the last European election, during the rise of UKIP and Nigel Farage. I just remember thinking, with everything happening, there was so much rhetoric of fear, hate and division. I thought with all that happening, if I could at least make my small part of the world, Sheffield and my community, that bit better, then at least I’d be contributing to try and make some sort of difference. And that’s when it got politicised, I ended up joining the Green Party because my morals, principles and values lie best with the Green Party. Then I started campaigning on issues like trying to save the local youth centre from closing down, and tackling anti-social behaviour, then I decided to stand as a councillor a year later and got elected in 2016.

Q: And then you made it, all the way up the proverbial food chain, to become Lord Mayor of Sheffield.

Magid: Yeah, I’m still Lord Mayor up until tomorrow lunchtime [15thMay]. It’s been a real privilege, it’s been challenging at times in all honesty, but it’s been a great experience.

Q: The University of Leeds has around 38,000 students alone, and with another two universities in Leeds, the student population probably totals around 60,000. How can the Greens capture the student/youth vote, particularly given that young people are notoriously bad at turning out to vote?

Magid: There’s a lot of issues that young people care about, whether that be climate change, immigration, there’s so much stuff. Even if you were to bring up something like Erasmus, that university students hold dear. So it’s literally just communicating that message and, I guess, galvanizing and giving them something to vote for. Fair enough, people might think there are other political parties, but we’ve always been consistent with our messaging, so it’s giving students the right tools so they can go out and create whatever change they can make. I genuinely thinking it is [about] looking positive, especially with the remnants of the Green Surge in 2015, and with a lot of young people joining the Green Party.

Q: Students I have been in contact with have suggested that they believe a “more useful” vote in favour of a Remain party would be for the Liberal Democrats. How would you respond to that?

Magid: First and foremost, a [tactical] vote is a vote you don’t believe in. Why any student would want to vote for the Liberal Democrats after the promises they made before just really baffles to me. Especially in the Yorkshire and Humber region, the Green Party actually beat the Liberal Democrats at the last European elections. And we have been consistent with our messaging, we have been brave and we have been campaigning on the issues like immigration, loudly and proudly. The Liberal Democrats are slippery and dangerous, and they are not a safe bet. Particularly in a region the Greens can win, any young person or students is best giving their vote to the Green Party.

Q: How do the Greens translate their successes in the local council elections into success at the European level?

Magid: We did so well in the local council elections, we took council seats in Leeds as well as Leave areas. I think the best way, on the back of those council elections, is trying to springboard off of that, but also using those amazing campaigners and communities to try and get the message out there. So, I think if we can galvanize all of our supporters and remind them that we can win, on the back of those council elections, we’ll just need that turnout for the European elections.

Q: How do we solve the Brexit deadlock in Westminster?

Magid: It’s quite easy in all honesty. Just have a People’s Vote. There is no Brexit deal that will deliver the promises made to the people at the last referendum. We’re at a deadlock. Parliament can’t get their act together, and both sides keep tossing and turning. The only way to get around this is to have a People’s Vote. Both Remain and Leave are united in that they didn’t want Theresa May’s deal. Leave didn’t want that, because they voted to leave, but what kind of leave? Let’s just have a People’s Vote.

Q: Finally, there has been talk on both sides that the EU needs “reform”. What does “reform” mean to you? If you are elected, on your first day, what reform platform would you be putting forward to the European Parliament?

Magid: The EU is by no stretch of the imagination a safe haven for progressive ideas. Whether that comes to migration, when it comes to the refugee crisis across Europe. Look at the way they deal with austerity. Look at the way they treated the people of Greece! There’s a lot, but first and foremost it will be Brexit. That’s something we can’t avoid. But also the provisions and support we give refugees when they first come to Europe, because that’s something that is quite close to my heart as well.

Image Credit: Magid Magid’s Facebook page.

Magid is clearly dedicated to his cause, as I could tell from my interview with him. Juggling his commitments to fasting for Ramadan, barely getting any sleep as he travels around Yorkshire and doing up to three interviews with the media a day, I couldn’t help but admire his tenacity. His dedication to the city of Sheffield, the Green Party and campaigning for success in the European elections are like nothing politics has seen before. At just 29, Magid has become one of the UK’s most exciting politicians. His rise to the very top of politics has been meteoric and he is one of the favourites in the Yorkshire and Humber region to win an MEP seat. Even if you don’t believe political polls, Ladbrokes polls have him as fourth-favourite nationally to become elected, with odds as short as 1/3!

VOTING FOR THE EUROPEAN ELECTIONS TAKES PLACE NATIONWIDE ON 23RD MAY. POLLS ARE OPEN 7:00am until 10:00pm.

Cover image taken from Magid Magid’s Facebook page, Magic Magid – The Lord Mayor of Sheffield

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