Donald Trump, the wasteman, is somehow still President.
The far right, more emboldened and barbaric by the day, parade streets throughout the western world. Immoral arms dealing, sinister geopolitics and despotism fuel bloody wars and conflict. Short of a holistic upheaval away from fossil capitalism and destructive industries within the next dozen years, climate catastrophe will ensue. And then, of course, there’s Brexit.
Processing the state of our country and the state of our planet, constantly sends chills down my spine, and I know I’m not alone in that regard. We are often faced with difficult emotions – of anger, fear and dread.
Coming to the end of 2018, however, my time as Lord Mayor of Sheffield has taught me two invaluable lessons: that there is always hope even in the obscurest of places, and that the need for compassion in the way we do politics, and do life, has never been greater.
Inspired by the simple philosophy of “doing things differently” I have attempted to use my platform to celebrate Sheffield and draw awareness to important causes, and to bring people together in a world that’s trying to drive us apart. And one of the ways I have tried to do that is through my t-shirts. Here are some of the slogans I’ll remember:
June 2018: “DONALD TRUMP IS A WASTEMAN”
I Magid Magid, Lord Mayor & first citizen of this city hereby declare that not only is Donald J Trump (@realDonaldTrump) a WASTEMAN, but he is also henceforth banned from the great city of Sheffield!
I further declare July 13th to be Mexico Solidarity Day! pic.twitter.com/qYehdHYDEt
— MΛG!D (@MagicMagid) July 4, 2018
In this current political climate, the last thing we need is a world leader like Donald J Trump stoking divisions between communities while scapegoating minorities. I am proud to be the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, the UK’s first city of sanctuary for migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. We don’t tolerate racism and xenophobia, and we not only celebrate all our differences but unite on the things we have in common. When the government rolled out the red carpet for Trump, it was left to us, the people, to take a stand. I for one could not allow us to legitimise everything he stood for. So I decided to send him and others a strong message and brand him a WASTEMAN!
September 2018: “ALWAYS HAVE EACH OTHERS BACKS. ALWAYS!”
I’m no suicide or mental health expert, nor am I trying to be. But what I do know is that more than 6,000 people die by suicide every year in the UK. We need to break the silence and have each other’s backs, because we are sadly living in a society where the stigma keeps many from seeking help and treatment, and stops others from even talking about it, even to their nearest and dearest. On World Suicide Prevention Day, I was proud to launch a UK-wide suicide prevention charter signed by over one hundred organisations, urging them to break the silence, create, evolve and enhance policies to support mental wellbeing and develop their understanding of the risk factors around suicide. More information can be found here.
October 2018: “DON’T MIND MY WATERMELON SMILE, BOJO”
Boris Johnson isn’t funny, Boris isn’t harmless. Boris is a posh-speaking, fancily-dressed, racist mophead imbecile. Him being passively accepted as a benign and reasonable potential leader of this country, genuinely makes me sick! #RtHonBigot#BHM2018#CPC18 pic.twitter.com/UFheIT7nXU
— MΛG!D (@MagicMagid) October 2, 2018
Boris Johnson is a posh-speaking, fancily-dressed, racist, mophead, Islamophobic imbecile. The idea of passively accepting him as a reasonable potential leader of this country genuinely makes me sick. As the architects of the racist hostile environment policy met and squabbled at their party conference in October, I wanted to give them a simple message – that racism and intolerance will be vanquished. We have more in common, more to share, we depend on one another, and we work best when we are looking out for one another. I’m confident that we as a country are not capable of making such a mistake as placing power and our future in the hands of Bigot Boris.
November 2018: “WHAT HAPPENED TO ‘NEVER AGAIN’?’”
It is not politicians in comfy chairs, but working people who are compelled to make the ultimate sacrifice. Today, innocent civilians are killed by bombs with British labels in Yemen and elsewhere. With it being the centenary of the ending of WW1 (the war to end all wars) this year, it was important to me to use my platform to speak on the matter. On Remembrance Sunday 2018, as well as laying both a white-poppy wreath and a red one, I chose to only wear a white poppy.
December 2018: “Earth Best Before: 24/12/2030”
Action or extinction – it’s that simple. Our world’s best scientists have confirmed we have 12 short years to prevent the exponential acceleration of catastrophic climate change. Some have said that I’m over-exaggerating, but I fear we have genuinely driven the Earth to the edge of its capacity to harbour life. When world leaders met in Poland debating the specifics of the Paris Agreement, I wanted to make it clear that politicians cannot ignore their historic responsibility. Their cowardice in the face of corporations has to end. If we act now, if we act from this Christmas, then there is a glimmer of hope. If we do not, the consequences will be apocalyptic for civilization and the natural world.
Some people have criticised the way I have used my platform, but in general, the reception – whether on social media, walking through the streets of Sheffield, or attending events around the country and in Europe – has been overwhelmingly positive and empowering. The status quo has left the majority tired, in despair and in want of something new.
The truth is, the political establishment are not representative of our society. The squat, for me, has become a symbol of defiance. It’s up to us to create our own traditions, not conform to standards created by others for themselves and those they wish to maintain power over. We must get off our high horses, widen engagement and make politics fit for the 21st century.
Every single one of us has a circle – some form of platform, some degree of influence. Speaking truth to power, acting according to our capability and opportunity, whatever that may be, is our collective responsibility.
It’s not easy. I keep a hate-box in the corner of my parlour, filled with the dozens of abusive and hateful letters awaiting me at the Town Hall on a regular basis. And the social media bullying culture leaves me, like many people, exhausted most nights of the week.
We all need coping mechanisms, to see the hope and feel the compassion, to stop us from going numb. I love a good dessert to keep me going – some steaming-hot flapjack and custard and I’m raring to go (though my recent visit to the dentist showed it isn’t without consequence).
Let’s be clear, this past year has shown people have recognised that things cannot stay as they are any longer. From this Christmas, we everyday folk must fill the political elite’s present vacuum of ideas with our progressive plans and principled solutions, for a fairer, more equal society.
The proof is in the sticky toffee pudding.
Magid Magid is Lord Mayor of Sheffield and a Green party councillor.