— Julia Cambridge (@juliacambridge1) October 30, 2016
Sarah Olney has been selected to contest the Richmond Park and North Kingston December 1st by-election for the Liberal Democrats.
An opinion poll has shown it is a two-horse race between local woman Sarah and Zac Goldsmith, the out-going Conservative Brexit MP whose resignation triggered the by-election. Sarah, an accountant and married mother of two, was selected at a meeting of the local party in Richmond today.
Sarah Olney said:
This by-election is a chance for people to have their say on Brexit, the NHS and Heathrow. Only a vote for the Liberal Democrats will make a stand against Heathrow and Brexit, not to mention the scandalous underfunding of the NHS.
At the school gate or in Richmond Park you meet people who are really worried about their livelihoods with the Conservatives playing Russian roulette with the British economy. They are also fearful about pollution, noise and congestion resulting from Conservative plans for Heathrow.
I am really grateful to the Liberal Democrats for showing such faith in me, and now I intend to do my absolute best for the people of this wonderful area.
Baroness Sal Brinton, President of the Liberal Democrats, was at the meeting to congratulate Sarah on her selection.
Sal Brinton said:
Sarah is talented, super-bright and a really dedicated, hard working campaigner.
A poll has shown that she has already slashed Zac Goldsmith’s lead and that she is his only challenger. Labour MPs have also been saying that if you want to beat the Conservatives, you have to vote Lib Dem here.
Zac Goldsmith is an independent candidate in name only and is being backed by Nigel Farage and UKIP. He is the candidate of a reckless, divisive and uncaring Conservative government. Liberal Democrats will be pouring into Richmond Park and we will run our biggest campaign in modern times.
Sarah, 39, lives with her husband Ben, a town planner, and their two children, Isabel, 7, and Rufus, 3, at their home in North Kingston. She is an accountant who works in nearby Teddington.
She has always been a Liberal Democrat voter but was moved to join the Liberal Democrats by Nick Clegg’s inspiring speech after the 2015 general election. “I realised then that it was so longer enough to sit cheering from the side-lines,” she says. “I needed to play an active part in the Liberal Democrat fightback, and campaign for a Britain that was open, tolerant and united.”
It was Conservative plans to introduce a Brexit referendum that fired her determination to stand for parliament. She was selected overwhelmingly by members as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Richmond Park after the referendum, and after a meeting at Grey Court School in the constituency has now been confirmed as Lib Dem candidate in the by-election.
She has taken up the two-decade long Liberal Democrat cause of opposing a third runway at Heathrow. As an asthmatic, she knows first-hand how pollution damages the quality of life locally. “Only the Liberal Democrats are united in fighting Heathrow expansion, as we are in fighting a hard Brexit and for proper NHS funding,” she says. “On these big questions, the Conservatives are totally divided and are driving through measures that are massively damaging to the constituency. Richmond Park desperately needs a local champion who understands the economic pressures and the everyday problems like trying to get a doctor’s appointment. I want to be the person who stands up for local people.”
Sarah will campaign to improve the NHS, local transport and supply of affordable housing.
While not knocking on doors, her weekends are often spent teaching her kids to ride their bikes in her beloved Richmond Park.
* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is a councillor and one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.