James Small-Edwards with, from left, his aunt Cheryl, his grandmother Evadney and his mother Heather
WHEN Liz Truss took the stage at the Conservative Party conference on Tuesday, she was keen to show it was a ‘reset’ to the chaotic previous fortnight.
The Prime Minister and his team had chosen the upbeat 90s pop track Movin’ On Up by M People, to try to signal that they were coming out of the economic turmoil they found themselves in.
It appears they haven’t checked the lyrics to the song, which contains lines such as “Get out of here, baby, pack your bags”, and that one of Westminster’s Labor councillors, James Small-Edwards , is the son of the singer. Little heather.
The councilor for Bayswater, who was first elected in May, said: “It was a weird song choice, it feels like they didn’t really listen to the lyrics. I was surprised they didn’t know I’m a labor counselor. This suggests that the Conservatives’ communications team is as effective as the economy’s.
Cllr Small-Edwards was one of two Labor councilors who delivered their results at 6am in the biggest story on the night the party won Westminster City Council for the first time. The Bayswater result was expected and set the stage for shock wins at Lancaster Gate. National newspapers published photos of the 25-year-old triumphantly punching the air.
“It was quite an amazing day and night, one of the longest days of my life. very busy day and we thought we’d do well in Bayswater but there’s no guarantee until the boxes are opened Then we saw how it was and it would be Lancaster Gate that would take us through the line.
“At 6 a.m. I was pure adrenaline and energy drinks. It was quite emotional in many ways because of what it all meant. We got the results to win the board and went out for a group photo.
Rather than going out for a celebratory drink or sleeping after more than 24 hours awake, he met his father, former rugby league international Shaun Edwards, who had campaigned for him that day, to travel to a family funeral in Wigan. “He had managed to get some sleep, and of course it was really weird going straight to a funeral, but it was nice to see the family and they had all seen the results and were congratulating me.”
The deputy head of planning and council affairs said his home was not an overt Labor home growing up, ‘it was like supporting a football team’, and that his parents taught him values that he had led them to lean towards the Labor Party. “It was a sort of moral and social justice household. I was taught values like honesty and decency that helped shape my progressive, socialist politics.
His first political memory is the 2010 general election and first voted in the 2015 general election when Ed Miliband lost to David Cameron. However, one of his formative experiences which pushed him to get more deeply involved in politics was volunteering at the North Paddington Foodbank during the Covid pandemic. Cllr Small-Edwards adds he is most proud that the council has donated £130,000 to support food banks since taking office.
“I felt it was clear that a food bank was only a short-term solution to helping people and long-term solutions were needed. I thought to myself that if I really wanted to change that, I should put myself forward, ”he said.
He grew up with his grandmother, who was part of the Windrush generation who came from Barbados to the UK in the 1960s, in Maida Vale.
He said: “You hear and can see the hardships she and her generations faced. You can see now that the government is only interested in pursuing this as well. I think my grandmother and my mother cannot believe that their grandson and their son are now councilors of the borough in which they lived and the neighborhood in which they did so much.
“My mum and aunt had a flat together in their twenties in Westbourne Grove and my dad used to drink in the Cow pub which is in my neighborhood.
“Being a councilor is busy, but I love it, I love being busy and it’s a privilege to be able to represent people at Westminster.”