Tag Archives: kirsten johnson

What a brilliant night – “the best local elections for the Lib Dems in a generation”

Four years ago, I was utterly heartbroken at this time in the morning. Not only had we lost almost all our MPs, but we’d suffered heavy losses in the council election.

Today, after spending most of yesterday in a darkened room whimpering in pain, I wake to absolutely brilliant results. Already we are up (at the time of writing) 271 councillors and most of the results aren’t in yet.

It’s not surprising that Ed Davey described the results on BBC Breakfast as the best local elections for the Lib Dems in a generation.

Some more of the highlights:

We seem to have surprised the BBC’s political editor:

A result we knew was on the cards a few weeks ago as it was clear that the Tory vote was disappearing like snow off a dyke.

And here are the very happy councillors:

Jacob Rees-Mogg has a Lib Dem councillor now.

Yvette Cooper’s backyard now contains Liberal Democrat Councillor Tom Gordon stormed to victory from a standing start in his home ward after moving down from Newcastle.

Three times the vote of the Labour Party. 9 times the vote of the Conservatives and Greens. And all that in just a few months’ spirited and energetic campaigning.

His former colleagues in Newcastle were delighted.

And here is Councillor Gordon:

 

Chelmsford’s result was simply outstanding – from 5 councillors to 31 and the Conservatives falling from 52 seats to just 21.

I have never been more glad to be proved wrong as far as Hinckley and Bosworth were concerned. They thought they might pull off overall control, but I thought that was a tiny bit ambitious, even with their ace team which has been honed to perfection over the years by former Lib Dem MP for Chesterfield, Paul Holmes. But they did it. It’s a fantastic result for Michael Mullaney and the team there.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 95 Comments

Good luck, everybody!

As this post goes live, indefatigable Liberal Democrats the length of England will have been up for hours delivering last minute leaflets in the local elections.

They have a tough day of more leafletting and knocking up (which is nowhere near as exciting as it sounds) ahead of them.

One of the best smells in the world is the breakfast roll cooking when you come in from your good morning leaflets.

But after that, there’s still a good 12 hours of work left.

And usually after the local elections, you can put your feet up for a week or so. Well, that didn’t happen in 2017 because some woman had a rush of blood to the head on a walking holiday in Wales and called a general election. It’s not going to happen now either because of the impending European elections.

The polling day operation is a crucial part of the campaign. Voters in local elections aren’t always inclined to go to the polls – the turnout is usually pretty small compared to a general election. Getting more of ours out than the opposition gets of theirs is crucial.

However tired you may feel, hold on to the idea of how brilliant it will feel if we win these elections. It will give us huge momentum going in to the Euros.

Keep going up until 10pm tonight. I’ll be on the phones for candidates across the country this evening.

Special good luck to our regular contributor Ed Fordham who is seeking elected office for himself for a change in the Brockwell ward in Chesterfield, to the North Devon team led by our Kirsten Johnson, to April Preston in Manchester Withington and Tom Gordon in Wakefield’s Knottingley and Ferrybridge ward.

April has the support of Jo Swinson in this video recorded a couple of months ago.

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The Liberal Democrats’ class of 2022: who they are and what they think

The New Statesman gives a sympathetic account of the selection of Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidates in an article headed “The Liberal Democrats’ class of 2022: who they are and what they think“, focusing on our target seats.

It includes a paragraph about Lib Dem Voice editor Kirsten Johnson:

Kirsten Johnson, a pianist who is contesting North Devon, said she entered politics to push for more money for mental health services and reduce the gap between rich and poor. “The Liberal Democrats stand for equality across all sections of society, whether economic, gender or any other equality. I think we need to have more people from all walks of life.”

And another about Daisy Cooper:

Daisy Cooper, who has a background in international affairs and is standing in St Albans, described herself as the anti-Brexit, pro-People’s Vote candidate. “I’m internationalist, pro-business, pro-environment – increasingly these are the values that will guide the future of the country.”

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Liberal Democrats select new Parliamentary candidate for North Devon

North Devon Liberal Democrats have selected their new prospective parliamentary candidate to try and win the seat back at the next election, and the news is of particular cause of celebration for all of us on the Liberal Democrat Voice team

Kirsten Johnson – a county councillor, professional musician from Oxfordshire and Thursday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice – was chosen at a meeting of party members in Barnstaple yesterday. She will be moving into North Devon shortly to enable her to devote maximum time and effort to her campaign.

Kirsten Johnson emerged …

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Notes from a new councillor: opposing Conservative cuts to children’s centres

One of the key elements in my campaign for election as Oxfordshire County Councillor was the cut in funding many of the Children’s Centres throughout Oxfordshire.

The closure of the Maple Tree Children’s Centre, Wheatley, in my patch inflamed the local community. Many parents and carers relied on the services and support provided at the Children’s Centre for health advice, parenting support, breast-feeding counselling, and meeting other local parents/carers.

This has been a big local issue. Our new Oxford West and Abingdon MP, Layla Moran, secured a debate in Westminster Hall on Children’s Centres. She moved that, “That this House has considered the role of children’s centres in tackling social inequality.”  You can read the full debate here.

Of those children’s centres slated for closure, communities were given the opportunity to keep their centres open. Residents of Wheatley rallied and a group was set up. The hope is that they will re-open the Maple Tree Children’s Centre from September, albeit with more limited services.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 23 Comments

Notes from a new Councillor: Taking Action

Many residents have contacted me with road concerns. I was warned before the election that roads would take a lot of my time! The list goes on and on: potholes, drainage, dips in the road, worn surfaces, pavements, kerbs, broken bollards, street-lighting, etc.

Is it worth my time? Yes. Getting a pavement cleared so that a mum with a pushchair can get through makes a difference. Getting a cycle route tidied of overgrown hedge keeps cyclists on the cycle path and safe. Working for new street-lighting protects young people as they walk home from school in the winter months. Improving drainage means people can access a recreation ground rather than walking through standing water to the gate.

I think I underestimated how much little things can have a big impact on people’s lives. And how, by sending an email or meeting with a county officer on a particular issue, not only will it improve the situation for one resident, but for many.

One reason I got involved in politics a couple of years ago was because of inequality. I think what I like most about being a county councillor is giving local people a voice. Listening to their concerns, hearing their concerns, and representing them. We live in an unequal world at many levels, socially, economically, educationally, opportunity.

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Notes from a new Councillor: My maiden speech

Both nervous and determined, I stood to make my first speech at the full Oxfordshire County Council meeting on July 11th. In fact, I spoke twice.

First, I supported the motion for the County Council to move to a committee system of governance rather than the existing cabinet system. I spoke about working together, across party lines, for the common good. And how this could be best achieved through a committee system, encouraging round-table decision making, than the cabinet model of top-down governance. The motion, with amendment to investigate the options available and to change the structure as soon as practicable, was carried.

I also spoke in favour of a motion to invite all Oxfordshire MPs to come to a meeting of County Council to discuss how we can work together to better serve our local residents. When this happens, I plan on asking questions about school funding, local bus services and protecting the Green Belt, amongst other issues. All elected representatives have a duty to their electors. Integrating our local and national efforts to achieve the best outcomes for Oxfordshire residents makes sense.

My appetite is now whetted, and I have mental drafts of three motions I wish to put to full council in September. Of course, our Lib Dem Group will work through all of our ideas and choose the best ones to present to council. It is great to be part of a team of 13 Lib Dem County Councillors. I’m learning a huge amount from my colleagues who have served for many years, and also enjoying the company of fellow newbies like the wonderful Liz Leffman, who brings a wealth of experience into the role.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 7 Comments

Notes from a new Councillor: The beginning

I was elected as Oxfordshire County Councillor in the May elections, my first time ever being elected to public office. What a whirlwind the first two months have been! Complicated by the small matter of being a parliamentary candidate in the GE for the first month of being County Councillor.

Would I recommend being a councillor? Yes!

For any of you out there thinking about putting yourself forward for next May’s local elections, do have a go. I have always felt passionately that politics is about a range of people getting involved, with various backgrounds and expertise to bring to the role. I’m a musician – and yes, we need more politicians from the arts. We need people of all ages and interests to take part in order to have true representation in democratic decision making.

What’s great about the job is the difference you can make in people’s lives. One of my first successes was supporting a family who had made an application for their child’s Special Educational Needs placement back in November. They still hadn’t heard back by June where their child would be starting school in September 2017. I got onto the case, made a phone call, sent some emails, and found out what was holding up the situation. It was sorted, and the family was given their answer, within a week of my asking. That has made a huge difference to this family. They can now enjoy the summer holidays with the assurance of knowing where their child is going to school in September.

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