A story of a Polish migrant winning an election – how did it happen?

It really has been a long campaign! It has been a well-planned and executed campaign. It has been a campaign during which I met hundreds, if not thousands of residents. It has been a campaign, which started in October 2021. The outcome? A commanding victory for a number of candidates in Welwyn Hatfield, including Handside ward in Welwyn Garden City!

Although I’ve already once had an opportunity to be as a Cllr, I feel a lot better prepared this time to serve my constituents. I still feel a bit tired, however overall I am happy and I feel privileged and proud that as a Polish migrant, local residents voted for me as their newly elected Cllr.

What was the success of our campaign? It would be a surprise if I say that starting canvassing early was very important. Just before the polling day, I counted and since October 2021, I’ve personally completed 59 door-knocking sessions. Quite a few of my friends, work colleagues think that I am probably insane, however as someone who simply enjoys social interaction, I must admit that each conversation, each opportunity to introduce myself, talk to residents about local issues (and often national and international), helped to recharge my batteries and gave me a huge amount of joy.

None of the above would have been possible without our fantastic network of deliveries, eager to distribute our literature to residents and inform them about our plans and aspirations. It also helped us to keep residents informed about the key local priorities and decisions that were being made/ debated in Welwyn Hatfield, particularly in relation to housing and the Town Centre.

Without a doubt, having a supportive team, excellent campaign manager and organiser have been instrumental in ensuring our victory! Our successful set of results demonstrated yet again that team work, sharing responsibilities, recognising our diverse set of skills provides were a solid foundation for a very good election result. We must and we want to build on that!

There is one other aspect of this victory, which is very important to me, personally. I was recently invited to give a talk on how politics relates to faith. It was an inspiring evening, during which I tried to challenge a number of stereotypes. When I asked my audience about things that spring to their mind when someone says Poland. Quite a few people said: builders, plumbers, hardworking individuals. We, far too often in my view, make assumptions. I/ we “box” or define people based on their heritage, background of ethnicity. Yes, a large proportion of my friends work in the building trade, however we ALL have a lot to offer. In my view, what makes Britain great is the fact that migrants, by bringing a wide range of skills, contribute and enhance our economy and local communities in different ways. I have no manual skills and therefore being part of the civic process is a way to share my talents with people of Welwyn Hatfield.

There is another, equally important aspect, which is essential in encouraging people to be more civically active. That’s political education. It is not about whether to vote for the Liberal Democrats or the Labour Party. It is about helping people to understand how the democratic system works in the UK. This “democratic empowerment” is absolutely critical if we want many more individuals to vote or even to stand in the Local Elections. In the last few days, I’ve received countless emails, messages from people, some from my European friends asking me what the actual role of the Cllr is.

The journey has just begun. I know that I will try to do my best to serve the residents of Handside. I will try to use every opportunity to make a difference and create a positive social change in my community. There is a lot to do and achieve. Let’s hope that some of our ideas will resonate with people and they won’t be too difficult to implement!

* Michal Siewniak is a Lib Dem activist and councillor for Handside ward, Welwyn Hatfield.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Well done Michal. Really nice article – and I have a feeling you’re going to be a terrific councillor. 🙂

  • Michal my former boss was a major in the Polish Army at Monte Cassino. He lost a third of his men. So the first thing that I remember when someone says Poland is him and the sheer bravery of his men.

  • Michal,

    How did it happen – You’re a good Lib Dem working for your community. ‘Nuff said?

  • Congratulations! Seems like you really earned that win with all that door-knocking

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