The deputy chairman of the London Assembly suggests green campaigners tone down their doom-mongering, is called on to chair Mayor's Question Time, and spends the weekend camping at a music festival in YorkshireMonday
Morning spent working from home catching up on casework emails and correspondence. Quick lunch and then off to London Fire Authority headquarters for four hours of back-to-back committee meetings. Then home for a cup of tea and chat with my partner, Dean, before heading around the corner to Brockley Social Club for a meeting of Lewisham Green Party. Guest speaker Neal Lawson, from the pressure group Compass, attracts a good crowd and sparks off a lively discussion about co-operation across the wider progressive left.
Morning spent in my office at City Hall dealing with yet more emails and correspondence. Read an interesting paper on climate change campaigning from a former activist at Greenpeace, arguing that constant doom-mongering does not motivate people and the green movement needs to change the way it presents its arguments. I have been saying similar for years: remember that Martin Luther King had a dream not a nightmare.
Meeting with my Green assembly colleague Jenny Jones and our support team. We have meetings like this each week to plan our diaries, research and media work, and to ensure we are properly prepared for key assembly meetings. This is then followed by a meeting with the mayor's deputy for transport, Isabel Dedring, on cycle safety and Transport for London's review of dangerous junctions. In the early evening I then head off with a member of my team to visit cycling and pedestrian campaigners at Elephant and Castle. I have received a whole range of complaints about the problems here so thought it best to meet up with local campaigners to see for myself.
Mayor's Question Time: this is where assembly members have a chance to question Boris Johnson each month. This is the first such session since the Olympics and Paralympics. I was due to quiz the mayor on the Olympic legacy, but as the chairwoman of the assembly is unwell I am called upon to chair the meeting. My colleague Jenny Jones takes on my legacy question. It was generally a good-natured meeting today – not always the case. After the meeting I have lunch with a visiting councillor from Brighton, chat briefly to members of the Harrow Youth Parliament and then head back up to my office. I am a local councillor as well as a London Assembly member so that often means a lot of additional evening meetings. No meetings tonight though, so I have arranged to meet up with a friend who is helping me try to keep fit and lose weight. We visit a newly-opened gym for the first time.
Today is a day of committee meetings: Greater London Authority Oversight committee in the morning, looking at City Hall staffing changes post-Olympics, and then Housing committee in the afternoon, continuing our investigation of the private rented sector in London. On the way home I stop off at an outdoor shop to buy new gas canisters for a weekend camping trip at a music festival in Yorkshire. Spend the evening getting the tent and a range of warm and waterproof clothing ready for the weekend.
I get up early as I want to try to get up to date with casework emails, phone calls and correspondence. At 2pm my friend Paul arrives for our weekend trip. After saying goodbye to my partner, Dean, we load up Paul's car and head up to Barnsley. Traffic is at snail's pace most of the journey with seemingly endless traffic reports of flooding, crashes, cars bursting into flames, oil tankers breaking down and so on. We do not arrive in Barnsley until after 8pm. The music festival has already started so we quickly set up the tent and get inside the venue – an industrial heritage centre – for the evening's entertainment.
Camping in late September is rather cold. "You silly sods," said one of the locals when we told her what we were doing. It is dry though and the day turns out quite sunny. A selection of folk musicians perform on two outdoor stages during the day. Then an indoor venue, thankfully, for the evening.
The alcohol flowed quite freely yesterday but as we are both working on Monday and driving back after the festival, Sunday is a dry day. The final band finishes at 11pm and soon after we are heading back to London. I finally get in bed at 3am, aware that I need to be delivering a speech at a conference on housing benefit in a few hours time. Still, it has been an interesting week. Darren Johnson is a member of the Green Party in the United Kingdom and deputy chairman of the London Assembly