Labour Highgate candidate: "It’s where I’ve always called home”

Camron Aref-Adib outside Highgate Library.

Camron Aref-Adib outside Highgate Library. - Credit: Camron Aref-Adib

Camron Aref-Adib, 26, didn’t always know he wanted to be in politics, but he did know he loved the area he’s called home his whole life. 

Selected as one of the Labour council candidates for Highgate ahead of the elections this May, Camron’s connection to Highgate and Camden goes back to before he was born, when his family arrived from Iran as refugees in the mid-1980s and moved into a council house in Dartmouth Park. 

Since then, they’ve never left the area. 

Camron partly puts his association with the Labour Party down to his family’s move. Labour MP Bryan Gould helped his family claim asylum and local MP Frank Dobson helped provide English lessons and enabled his parents to finish their medical studies. 

In the elections on May 5, voters will elect councillors in the three seats currently held by the Green Party's Sian Berry, and Labour's Oliver Lewis and Anna Wright.

“My motivation more than anything to stand in Highgate was because I love this place and it’s where I've always called home. I’m a proper local boy, and things like our community centre and library are things that I used throughout my whole childhood, and that’s why I really want to fight for them," he said.

Before throwing himself into local politics, Camron studied at the London School of Economics before moving to live and work in Nigeria on an Overseas Development Institute fellowship.  

There he was allocated to the Ministry of Trade as an economist, helping to train up civil servants, as well as working on a diversification strategy to reduce the country’s reliance on exporting crude oil. 

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That journey was cut short however due to funding issues, and he came back to the UK in the height of the pandemic in 2020. 

Currently a researcher for Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali, where he has been since September 2020, Camron says working in local politics has illuminated the impact MPs, and councillors, can have on residents. 

“One thing I’ve picked up is how MPs can make a different to the case work they do. A letter from an MP can go a long way. But also through interactions with councillors," he said.

“I realised councillors are the ones who have a lot of local power, especially in Labour-run councils, you can really make a difference.” 

Camron Arref-Adib at Waterlow Park in Highgate

Visiting Waterlow Park in Highgate - Credit: Camron Aref-Adib

Alongside his work as a researcher, Camron is the BAME officer for the Holborn and St Pancras Labour Party. 

Starting the role in February 2021, he says he joined to increase BAME involvement in meetings and general involvement in the party at a local level. 

"Particularly in Camden, when you’ve got such a high population from minority backgrounds, it’s really important that that translates into members who have got officer positions in the party.” 

Looking ahead to the issues Camron intends on focussing on in Highgate, he identifies three key challenges; green areas, affordable housing, and safety and antisocial behaviour. 

He says the ward needs more cycle hangers and electric vehicle charging points, and speaks passionately about driving greater youth participation in sport. 

He is also keen to avoid affordable housing in the ward becoming neglected due to Highgate’s perception as “this really middle-class area”. 

While aware of the difficulties that lie ahead of the election, Camron says he’s “really excited to start campaigning as a candidate”, in the hope that he can represent an area he knows “like the back of your hand”. 

“It’s just a fantastic place. Dartmouth Park, the rest of Highgate, the area is fantastic. Some of the local restaurants, it’s just a really amazing place. And the diversity of it is what makes it special," he said.

“If I’m lucky enough to be a councillor it’s always going to be at my core, maintaining the diversity of this area and ensuring that all voices are heard, not just those that shout the loudest.” 

Camron Aref-Adib is one of Labour's council candidates for Highgate

Camron Aref-Adib is one of Labour's council candidates for Highgate - Credit: Camron Aref-Adib