Author Archives: Kirsten Johnson

Agenda 2020 essay #1: What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

Editor’s Note: The party is currently running an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions is 2nd November. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to 

What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today, to me, is about fairness, equality and freedom.  Freedom for all us to be who we wish to be and to develop our talents to the full.  Equality that no matter who we are, our origins, our abilities or disabilities, we are given equal voice and valued equally in society.  Fairness is about combatting structures in our society which promote the few over the many, so that all are enabled and empowered.

To be truly free is not a singularity.  It happens in relationship. Being a Liberal Democrat is about being in relationship: we are stronger together than we are alone.

WE are the world.  Not me.  Not I.  The rise of individualism, and the emphasis of individual freedoms without the context of relationship, has brought us to this point.  The 21st century is a self-serving society.  What is best for me?  What can I achieve?  How much more money can I make?  The emphasis on me, me, me is a losing ticket. Me can only win if WE are at the forefront of policy and decision making.  

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Opinion: Non-Linear Values: The Z Coordinate

Since the General Election arguments have raged over whether we, or particular people in the party, are centrist, left of centre or right of centre, and, if so, how much left or right of centre.

I think we are getting this wrong. It is not a linear issue. If I am a kind person, am I left of centre or right of centre? If I am selfish, am I left or right of centre? Why do we limit ourselves by a linear construct?

Rather than see liberal values, and the placement of Liberal Democrats on the political map, as linear, my view is we must take a non-linear perspective. Values are overarching. Promoting liberty, equality and community might sometimes involve what might be called right leaning policy, at other times left, but whether it is one or the other or neither is immaterial. What is important is whether the policy achieves liberty, equality and community. Those overarching values should be the litmus test for any policy.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 25 Comments

Opinion: My vision

As a Parliamentary Candidate I received innumerable emails on a range of issues. One said:

Right, Kirsten. You’ve come into my house via your election pamphlet so here’s me coming into yours via an e-mail. I have a very simple request and that is for you to describe your personal vision (not a formulaic party response) for our country in 10 to 15 years’ time and your strategy for attaining that vision.

Many of us are tired of the same old party political machinations which focus solely on ‘buying’ votes via unachievable promises. I want to be inspired by someone who is able to rise above the unedifying scramble and who can paint a picture of a UK that will become admired.

Posted in Op-eds | 16 Comments

Opinion: Please vote

You have to register to vote by tomorrow, 20 April. If you haven’t already registered, please do! Here’s the online link: Register to vote – GOV.UK

Yesterday I attended a Wartime Tea Concert in my constituency. The hall was decorated in bunting, the orchestra played Dam Busters, the screens behind the orchestra showed pictures of the Normandy landings and ration queues.

There must have been at least twenty tables set for tea and covered with Union Jacks. At each table was a group of elderly people from either a local care home or from a lunch club. Their generation remembers the war and the sacrifices made.

I was moved to tears as I looked about the room. Our generation has not known such universal sacrifice and deprivation. Many of us do not know the true value of freedom. The vote is taken for granted. And in only a few years, that link with previous generations who can tell us first-hand about the great wars will be lost. We will only have recorded memories to rely on.

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Opinion: Water of Life

Today many Christians are celebrating Easter, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Jesus, whether you view him as historical figure, prophet or messiah, used many images in his teaching. One was water.

John 4:13-14 talks of Jesus’ encounter with the woman of Samaria at the well, and Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But anyone who drinks the water I give them will never be thirsty. In fact, the water I give them will become a spring of water in them. It will flow up into eternal life.”

Water is a precious resource. Just this week there was news of California entering the fourth year of drought. Governor Jerry Brown has introduced strict conservation measures to reduce water usage by 25%. California produces a third of the fresh vegetables consumed by Americans, and prices in shops across the country are already reflecting the drought.

Global warming has brought this on. The snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains which supplies the water California needs is at a record low. The water California needs for households, crops and industry is not available. Sacrifices will have to be made.

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Opinion: Could you save a life?

As a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate I have received emails from St John Ambulance and from the British Red Cross, both wishing to promote First Aid. But what about mental health first aid? With equal parity now being given to mental and physical health, shouldn’t First Aid include Mental Health First Aid?

I think so. And I am pleased that Lib Dems at conference thought so too, for we approved new mental health policy which included a clause I submitted with the support of Oxford East:

To consult with external bodies on the content of, and how best to include training in, Mental Health First Aid, with a view to incorporating elements of Mental Health First Aid into existing First Aid at Work courses.

Imagine the world before First Aid classes, before people were taught the recovery position and CPR. Before such training, if someone was ill people would flap and call for help. They would not get involved.

The same thing happens when people are in mental health crisis. People feel inadequate, have no idea how to help, and do not get involved.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 4 Comments

Opinion: We must not be complacent!


Yesterday was International Women’s Day. We have a lot be proud of, but there is still a long way to go.

On Friday I spoke at a hustings organised by Youth Parliament. Afterwards, I had several young women come up, inspired and engaged with what I had to say. It was brilliant to see them keen on becoming politically active.

But as I left I was approached by two teenage lads, well-spoken, but of a completely different mindset. They asked me why women should be encouraged into politics because “it is a career which suits men.” I was aghast. I could not believe that attitude could exist among young people today. I am prepared for sexism from older generations, but my generation and those younger than me surely have been brought up in a world where men and women are equal?

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPeter Watson 27th Feb - 11:10pm
    "in Copeland our vote has snuck above ten percent only twice; in 2005 and 2010" According to the Wikipedia page ( 2001 10.7% 1983 15.9%...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 27th Feb - 11:07pm
    Esther writes of something very important. In the enthusiasm all of us feel for criticism of Trump, the only thing I like , of his...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 27th Feb - 11:03pm
    Mary You are correct , thanks. The thing is until Eddie raised this matter I knew very little of the extent of it. I actually...
  • User AvatarMary Reid 27th Feb - 10:53pm
    Lorenzo, we are in the hands of our contributors. So if you, or anyone else, thinks something is missing, please write it.
  • User AvatarMary Reid 27th Feb - 10:49pm
    Apologies for the wrong spelling - entirely my fault
  • User AvatarCassieB 27th Feb - 9:18pm
    Martin, it's a wonder you can bring yourself to talk to us 'undemocratic' types at all, really. A burden you shoulder bravely. You've missed a...