There was a surprising moment half-way through my conversation with Lawrence McCambridge-Audini, an independent candidate standing in Brentford and Isleworth – we had discussed the banking system, big business, America, Rhodesia, and Lord Macaulay’s 1835 speech on India, among other political topics, and I was assuming that at any moment, in the customary manner of a (prospective) local politician, he would launch into the reasons why the neighbourhood hospital, or library, or school needed saving.
But instead, in response to my pressing him on which local amenities he’ll be talking about in the months to come, he tells me he won’t be.
“We haven’t got time for it.
“I’ve got to take these huge issues, and find a way to relate that to how that is affecting us — how am I going to do that? Believe me my friend, by standing on the doorstep.
“I accept the mountain I’m looking at, in getting this over. Yes we have to simplify it, equate it to their housing, equate it to whatever I can. I have to listen to them, and hopefully I’ll be quick-witted enough to make connections.”
It is surely a bold move for an independent candidate to prioritise the global issues over local ones. He doesn’t even have much time for national concerns: “what I think is going to be one of the buzz phrases, is ‘Act locally, think globally.’ Nationally doesn’t come into it anymore – it really doesn’t. We can deal on a local level with the world.
“If I want to do a deal with someone in India or someone in Africa, I do it over the internet. Don’t want to use their currency, don’t want to use my currency, what currency shall we pick? Shall we use a crypto-currency, which we haven’t even mentioned yet — the evolution of crypto-currencies is taking banking straight out of it.”
Audini-McCambridge sees his status as an independent, or at least the unpredictability of the status of an independent politician, as part of the “paradigm shift” brought on by technological advancement. “At ever growing speed, we are having digitalisation and mechanisation. There aren’t jobs anymore – Labour are for the working man, but what is the working man?”
But will Audini-McCambridge’s brave new ideas, more concerned with the global and the historical (“We have to accept what our history is in order to move forward”) than the local take hold in Brentford and Isleworth? The test begins in earnest in the new year, when he will start his campaign. Over the course of ten weeks, Audini-McCambridge will be leafleting out on the streets by day, then on the doors by night, focusing on one of Brentford and Isleworth’s wards each week.
“Once we’ve gone through the ten wards, we’ll reassess, see what following we’ve got, what support there is.”
Who’s the ‘we’ McCambridge-Audini is talking about?
“I’m using it in a royal context,” he laughs.
As you might expect of an independent candidate, McCambridge-Audini is about as far from a career politician as you can get. Currently a private tutor, he spent most of the 2000s in Saudi Arabia in various teaching posts, and before that ran a theatre company. His reason for turning away from theatre? Fame is “anathema to him,” so when Russell Brand, who was working for him at the time, gave Time Out a picture with McCambridge-Audini in, “that was the final straw.” His wife suggested applying for a particular job Saudi Arabia, and, after the initial are-you-mad discussion, off they went.
Returning to the UK just after the birth of their daughter six years ago, McCambridge-Audini and his wife settled back in Hounslow. Being able to do a lot of his work from home, McCambridge-Audini became their daughter’s primary carer.
“Life changed very dramatically. The first thing we found out was that because she [our daughter] was born in the Middle East, if her children were to have British citizenship, she would have to have her children here or they would have no citizenship.”
Working from home also gave him the opportunity to look into politics, which he had not seriously been involved in since his student days at the University of London in the eighties, where he had known Lynn Brown, now MP for West Ham, Shadow Minister for Fire and Communities, and Opposition Whip. “She was a Labour apparatchik then as she is now – apparatchik, I like the ‘chik’ sound.”
He tells me of his current feelings towards politics: “I don’t like what’s going on in England. The way we’re framing ourselves in a geopolitical sense, we are putting ourselves in danger, we are isolating ourselves against a huge block, whether we like that block or not” – the ‘huge block’ being not the EU, but the world beyond the USA and Europe.
Another major concern of McCambridge-Audini’s is the banking system. “I’m an idealist who has to look at the practicalities. I’ve been looking at groups like Positive Money, and the basic conclusion I’ve come to is that we have to get back to local banking, and put our assets into our banks – where our banks are based on our land, our property, and our work. Now people will say this is mad, but this is the way banking was done.”
Reform of the banking system will be a key part of McCambridge-Audini’s campaign. “I don’t think it was an accident that parliament had a debate on the creation of money for the first time in 170 years.
“Governments and government oppositions agree to these sorts of things because … they understand it’s seeping into the consciousness of the population that banks are not governments, they are private companies, with private individuals who are creating our money out of nothing.”
All these goals seem very noble, but does McCambridge-Audini actually think it’s realistic he could win Brentford and Isleworth? And what would he be able to accomplish if he did get in?
“A year ago, I’d have said no chance [I could win] at all, but now I really don’t know.
“As an independent MP, I could definitely get things done. The NHA, as an independent I can work with, the Greens you can work with, Minimum Wage, Positive Money, the Constitutional Party – if all these people are going out and winning seats, there is going to be a block [of small parties and independents].”
For all that fame is “anathema” to him, McCambridge-Audini is clearly up for the (electoral) fight over the next six months, and current MP Mary Macleod is hardly short of competitive spirit. “Let the best person win,” she told Claire earlier the same morning. Looks like there’ll be plenty of sparks a-flying in Brentford and Isleworth…