In full: Sarah Olney’s victory speech: No to politics of division. We will defend the Britain we love

Just in case you missed it earlier, we won! Sarah Olney defeated Zac Goldsmith by 1872 votes.

We can’t call her Sarah Olney MP yet. She only officially acquires that title when she takes the oath in the Commons on Monday.

Her speech at the count tonight was gracious, determined and passionate. Here it is in full:

Let me start by thanking the other candidates for a hard-fought campaign – and to Zac Goldsmith in particular, I wish you well and assure you that I will continue your fight against the expansion of Heathrow.

I also would like to thank the returning officer, the staff that have worked so hard today and yesterday and of course the police. I want to thank my amazing campaign team led by James Lillis and the thousands of volunteers who have taken time to support me over the course of the campaign. I want to thank my family and friends for the wonderful support they’ve given me – particularly my husband Ben and our children. I want to thank our leader Tim Farron, and all the other party members who could not have been more supportive. And I’d like to thank the Greens, More United, the Women’s Equality Party and all the other people beyond the Lib Dems who have supported me in this campaign.

A year and a half ago, I wasn’t involved in politics. I wasn’t a member of a political party. I’d never been involved in a political campaign. I’d never thought about being a politician. But I knew I was a Liberal – I believed in openness, tolerance, compassion, working with our neighbours at home and around the world – and when I saw what happened at the General Election and I felt I had to get involved.

I think a lot of people in this community had the same feeling this summer. Richmond Park is full of people like me who felt that something was going wrong. That the politics of anger and division were on the rise. That the liberal, tolerant values we took for granted were under threat. We were seeing the UKIP vision for Britain in the ascendancy – intolerant, backward-looking, divisive; just as we see it in America and across Europe.

Well today we have said no. We will defend the Britain we love. We will stand up for the open, tolerant, united Britain that we believe in. The people of Richmond Park and North Kingston have sent a shockwave through this Conservative Brexit Government. And our message is clear: we do not want a ‘hard Brexit’; we do not want to be pulled out of the Single Market; and we will not let intolerance, division and fear win.

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  • Thank you sarah

  • Such a shame that Tim said “the only party” when he could have said main, leading or best placed party. Not exactly going to go down we with greens or other who endorsed our candidate. At the very least the lib Dems need to announce that they won’t oppose Caroline Lucas at the next election. Then start working out other places (Bristol West, Norwich South, somewhere in Cornwall) where they would give the greens a free run in return for reciprocal treatment elsewhere.

  • Neither will you win Mark. Do you understand how Proportional representation works? Try and look at the bigger picture.

  • How quickly any gratitude for the greens helping us win in Richmond vanishes, its about as vote winning as the MP for Bristol West voting to treble tuition fees, having pledged to abolish them. So much for no to the politics of division.

  • Here goes Caracatus again…their was much thanking of those who stood down and helped both directly and through columns in various publications. But to keep nitpicking which is your speciality, gets us nowhere

  • Jayne Mansfield 2nd Dec '16 - 9:03am

    @ Caracatus,
    The people of Richmond Park showed that they are perfectly capable of voting tactically. I find this idea of a ‘progressive alliance’ ridiculous and anti-democratic. The different parties have different philosophies otherwise they would merge.

    If one travels up North one can start to appreciate the level of division that has been unleashed. It will take more than warm words to heal the wounds that have been opened, and any attempt to engineer a vote would, in my opinion, cause even more anger.

    I would have given my vote to Sarah in this particular election, but a rich tory, former lib Dem constituency such as Richmond Park, where many work in the city and can afford houses costing 4 times the national average is not a typical constituency.

    I’m thrilled that a faux independent has been voted out. Maybe he can now return to the tory fold and support a government that sends characters like Boris Johnson and Liam Fox bouncing around the world to represent our nation.

  • Well done Sarah and to the huge number of people who put in the time and effort to ensure her election to Parliament.

  • @ Caractacus “the MP for Bristol West voting to treble tuition fees,”….. my information is that Stephen Williams abstained on the tuition fees issue. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    @ Councillor Mark Wright….”The Green Party standing down for us in a seat where they have never had any hope is not remotely a quid-pro-quo for us standing down in a seat that used to be one of our strongest in the country and which we held until last year. That’s utterly absurd.”

    There’s nothing absurd in the Bristol West figures – apart from the fact the sitting MP came third last time :

    General Election 2015: Bristol West[7]
    % ±
    Labour Thangam Rachel Debbonaire 22,900 35.7 +8.1
    Green Darren Hall 17,227 26.8 +23.0
    Liberal Democrat Stephen Roy Williams 12,103 18.8 −29.2
    Conservative Claire Hiscott 9,752 15.2 −3.2
    UKIP Paul Turner 1,940 3.0+1.8

    Majority 5,673 8.8-11.7
    Turnout 64,218 72.0 +5.1
    Labour gain from Liberal Democrat Swing -7.5

    I wouldn’t describe that as a seat where the Greens have never had any hope of winning, rather the reverse, but if you want to splinter the radical vote, Mark, that’s up to you.

  • There are a few plausible places for the Liberals to stand down in favour of the Greens. Not least Lucas’ own seat which is lost by the Greens on the new boundaries.

    Norwich South and Bristol West, both places where the Greens acted as the trojan horse for Labour, bringing the Lib Dem vote down far enough to make sure Labour gained the seat, probably aren’t those places. The local politics of it all is too recent and raw. This kind of arrangement is about both maths and people.

  • Sue Sutherland 2nd Dec '16 - 6:24pm

    I loved the speech.

  • Steve Comer 3rd Dec '16 - 10:45am

    I appreciate the logic of trying to stop the Tories benefiting from split opposition, but the past experience is not great. The ‘Huddersfield’ deal and similar at local council level in northern towns in the 1950s may have helped a few elected members survive in office, but at the expense of a long term decline for the party in those areas. The Liberal/SDP Alliance (and electoral pact) was necessary for the 1983 election, but by 1987 was past its sell-by date and a merger of the two parties was the only logical outcome.

    The standard advice is always stand a candidate (even a paperless one), but there are signs things are changing. Mainstream parties did not contest the Batley by-Election after it’s MP was murdered, yet Eastbourne in 1990 WAS contested in similar circumstances. David Davis was not opposed when he stood down over Civil Liberties, and of course the Tories did not stand against Goldsmith.

    Given the stance the Green Party took in Richmond, I could see logic in Lib Dems not standing in Brighton Pavillion, but only if the Green Party did not stand in Lewes. Remember in 2015 Norman Baker lost by 1,083, with the Greens polling 2,784. In any event the decision would need to be made by the members in each local party not imposed from above.

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