UPDATED: Sarah Yong stands down as Lib Dem candidate for marginal seat of Somerton and Frome

20140201-202125.jpg Sarah YongIt’s six months since Sarah Yong was selected as the Lib Dem candidate for Somerton and Frome, held by David Heath since 1997. Today she’s announced her decision to stand down. Here’s the letter she’s sent to her local paper, announcing the news:

Dear Editor,

I just wanted to let you know that it is with great regret that I’ve decided to stand down from my role as Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Somerton and Frome. I have made this decision for personal reasons and as a result of changes in personal circumstances.

It’s a decision I’ve not taken lightly, and it’s one I take with a heavy heart. I would have loved to have followed in David Heath’s footsteps as the MP for Somerton and Frome.

Feel free to quote any of this email in a news story you may wish to write.

With very best wishes,

Sarah

In an email to LibDemVoice, Sarah added:

I’m sure you’ll all know how difficult a decision this has been for me. But sometimes things don’t always work out in the way you planned.

I would like to thank everyone for their support over the past 6 months, and in particular David Heath with whom it has been a privilege to work and who is an outstanding public servant and MP for the people of Somerton and Frome.

It is difficult single out individuals for the kindness and support that they have shown me, but I would also like to thank Paddy Ashdown for his personal encouragement and the faith he has shown in me.

I wish the new PPC for Somerton and Frome well.

That goes for us as well – and in return may we wish Sarah the very best for whatever comes next. Being a candidate, especially for the Lib Dems, is a tough task — as my 2008 series, ‘The PPC Files’, made all too clear.

Somerton and Frome has remained a Lib Dem seat these past 17 years in large measure thanks to David Heath’s unstinting dedication. Holding it will be a tough battle. Holding it with a candidate with just months to bed into the constituency before the next election tougher still. Good luck to the local party and whoever they select.

UPDATE Tuesday 8:40 am

Paddy Ashdown has commented on Sarah’s decision:

Sarah is a considerable political talent, and I’m sure we’ll see her in Westminster in the future. She is a close personal friend and I’m sad she hasn’t been able to stand on this occasion. I have no doubt, this isn’t the last we’ve heard of her.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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13 Comments

  • Shaun Nichols 14th Jul '14 - 9:44pm

    Sad to hear this news.

    I think many would appreciate knowing what the change of circumstances are. The odds of retaining this seat have suffered a significant blow.

  • Why do people do this? Lost cause? I feel sorry for those few people slogging their guts out…………

  • Eddie Sammon 14th Jul '14 - 10:45pm

    We shouldn’t kick people when they are down. She hasn’t taken it lightly. Best of luck to Sarah.

  • Jonathan Brown 15th Jul '14 - 2:18am

    I’m really sorry to hear this. I think Sarah would have been a truly excellent MP.

    I hope she is well, and wish her all the best for the future.

  • Charles Rothwell 15th Jul '14 - 6:59am

    Not good news and while I wish Sarah all the best personally for the future, if the Party cannot retain candidates in seats like this, it adds conviction to the view that the coming Autumn Conference needs to be the start of a radical and thorough process of examining precisely what the Party stands for, to whom it aims to appeal, the emergence of new policies and the development of a coherent strategy going well beyond May 2015. If not, I can only think we are heading in precisely the same direction as the German FDP. (Very depressed, for example, by a news item on Radio 4 News: “…the new communications bill, supported by the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, but opposed by civil liberties groups.” (The last named should be precisely the kind of group supporting, not opposing, us!)

  • Ruth Bright 15th Jul '14 - 9:27am

    It is a lonely (and expensive) business being a PPC. I do not know anything about Sarah Yong but I do hope there was someone in the party telling her that whatever the issues were – career, health, family or whatever – that there would be someone there to help. I hope she will wish to stand again in the future.

  • I think it says it all about the party and our future, we have not go one in the the immediate future. We are simply going nowhere. Will this be the worst attended conference for decades?

  • Martin Pierce 15th Jul '14 - 9:52am

    This is the second time in a week candidates in currently held seats have stood down for undisclosed personal reasons with less than 10 months to go before the election. It could be entirely coincidental but given PPC is a very public role, especially in seats we expect/hope to win, Ian/Sarah do have an obligation I think to give some high level indication of what the personal reasons are, otherwise people might not unreasonably assume it’s something along the lines of ‘don’t fancy running myself ragged with demoralised members, jeering electorate and near-certainty of crushing defeat at the end of it’

  • There seem to be an awful lot of sinking ships in political waters at the moment. By no means all of them ours. I agree with Martin by the way.

  • Tony Dawson 15th Jul '14 - 3:53pm

    What chance did Lord Ashworth give us of holding this seat? David Heath extracted two ‘miracle saves’ on the trot, but as a non-incumbent Lib Dem parliamentary candidate in the present environment, you literally have to flog yourself to death to even hit the ‘glass ceiling’ for your constituency which might still be too low to succeed.

    It is easy enough to criticise people who back out of such situations with only months to go. But people lose health, house, job, marriage, mental soundness among other tings when they place themselves in situations where it is impossible to succeed yet some people around you expect you to.

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 15th Jul '14 - 5:02pm

    Sarah in my opinion is and not was one of our brightest hopes for the future and I very much hope that circumstances positively change in the future so that she is able to become the excellent member of parliament that many of us believe that she will be.

    Along with many members of the Party, and specifically those in EMLD, I wish Sarah good fortune for the future

    Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera

    Liberal Democrat English Party Diversity Champion
    Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrat (EMLD) – Vice Chair

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