Tag Archives: sutton and cheam

Let’s focus on taking on the Tories in Sutton & Cheam

Last week, I had the honour of being selected by party members to be the Liberal Democrat candidate for Sutton and Cheam at the next general election, following a closely fought selection campaign.

Having previously worked as a BBC journalist for 30 years, I have now left this role to focus all my efforts on regaining this seat – which was stalwartly held for us by Paul Burstow until 2015. A win here would be a huge blow for the Conservatives and unseat Paul Scully, a senior Conservative minister who is part of this uncaring government that is taking local people for granted.

Since my selection was announced there has been some scrutiny about myself and my past. This is something I expected and indeed welcomed during the selection process, as it allowed me to explain my views and where I stand. However, more recently there have also been some unfounded claims about me by our political opponents on social media. I want to use this piece to reassure anyone who is worried and remind party members that I am always available to meet them to address any concerns.

Perhaps one issue is that having been a BBC journalist for the past thirty years, I have not been allowed to express political views in public, or on social media. So l’d like to set the record straight and address some of the issues raised. First, let me start with my history with the Liberal Democrats.

I started canvassing for the party as a student in 1982 and was first elected as an SDP-Liberal councillor in 1986 at the age of 22, winning my seat from the Tories with the biggest electoral swing that night anywhere in the country. I worked for the party in Parliament – helping Paddy Ashdown among others – and I am now the Vice Chair of Kingston Borough Liberal Democrats. I was the party’s candidate in Spelthorne in the 2019 general election and was shortlisted for several other target seats.

I have always worked for an inclusive society, supporting people regardless of sex, race, or sexual orientation. As NUJ chair at the BBC I led over a 1,000 journalists in our fight to improve racial diversity as well as equal pay for women. Here I worked closely with the first women news presenters to be successful in their fight against discrimination. And I went on to win more such claims.

Posted in Op-eds | 147 Comments

Let our actions do the talking on diversity

This election is all up in the air with just over a week to go and the key message going out to Lib Dems everywhere is target, target, target. I agree 100% with one caveat.

When I wake up (or perhaps more realistically; go to sleep) on 9th June I would like us to have more MPs. Whilst the number of likely gains is small in number, each one will be a massive boost to the party and the hard-won result of hours and hours of volunteers delivering, canvassing and promoting those candidates.

My one caveat however, is that I would be very disappointed if our parliamentary party was not more diverse. I know that hundreds of activists have been supporting many of our fantastic women standing for parliament in held and previously held seats; from Sarah Olney to Jo Swinson; Tessa Munt to Christine Jardine there has been a clear awareness of the need to ensure the Liberal Democrat MPs in this next parliament aren’t all men.

However, another element of diversity the party does not seem to be following through on, as strongly, is ensuring the ethnic diversity of our MPs. We have a very strong chance to elect one such MP in Amna Ahmad, the incredible candidate for Sutton, Cheam and Worcester Park and who I have been fortunate enough to be campaigning for over the past four days. 

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

#LibDemFightback campaigners busy on the streets this weekend

There are some fantastic, smiling action photos coming out from Lib Dem campaigners this weekend!

Victor Chamberlain has been out twice, campaigning for Simon Hughes with colleagues at the Elephant and Castle:


…and at Borough and Bankside:

Tim Farron visited Leeds – and Leeds Young Liberals captured their excitement at the leader’s arrival:

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Amna Ahmad selected to fight Sutton and Cheam

Selections for a potential snap general election continue. Amna Ahmad has been selected to fight Sutton and Cheam, the seat held until the 2015 general election by former health and social care minister Paul Burstow.

She announced the news in a tweet:

You can find out more about Amna and what makes her tick in an interview she gave to the Croydon Citizen when standing for the GLA for Sutton and Croydon this year:

I grew up in south London, but I was born in Pakistan, moving to London when I was less than a year old. When I was growing up, there was domestic violence in my home, and I spent some time in foster care. I spent a lot of time dealing with the authorities at a young age and realised that it can be difficult to speak up and be heard. These experiences have given me the drive to speak up for others wherever I can. That’s why I got involved in politics, and I joined the Liberal Democrats because I believed that going to war in Iraq was the wrong decision. The Liberal Democrats were the only party to wholeheartedly campaign against that war.

I believe in community politics and local decision making, which is why I am a Liberal Democrat…

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Cllr Ruth Dombey writes: In memory of David MacDonald

Where to begin?

A young man of 28 – with his whole life ahead of him – has had that life cruelly and unexpectedly snatched away. It’s hard to find the right words.

Dave MacDonald was truly special. As the emails and Facebook comments pour in from across the country, we all remember his kindness, his generosity and his boundless enthusiasm.

He was a tireless campaigner and set himself the highest standards.The trouble is he then expected the same from everyone else – and would never take no for an answer. I had barely had time to make myself a cup of tea during the recent Grove byelection Polling Day, take two gulps and he was pushing me out the door again.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

Ashcroft’s poll of Lib Dem battleground seats: incumbency is alive and well but 2015 will be a survival election for the party

Tory peer and pollster Lord Ashcroft has published his latest set of constituency findings. He polled some of the key Lib Dem / Tory and Lib Dem / Labour battlegrounds in the summer – he’s now followed that up by looking at a further 22 seats. Of these, 2 are Lib Dem targets, 15 the party is defending against the Tories, and 5 against Labour. You can see the full results here .

Here are the headline findings:

  • Of the 20 Lib Dem-held seats polled, the Lib Dems would retain just 6.
  • The Tories would gain 7 and Labour would gain 4. The other 2 would be a tie (though actually a further 5 are statistical ties within the margin of error).
  • The Lib Dems would win neither of their two targets.
  • Posted in Polls | Also tagged , , , , , , , , and | 37 Comments

    Chris Rennard writes… Marking the great Sutton and Cheam by-election victory with Sir Trevor Jones

    Just over forty years ago, the Liberal Party was on 8.5% in the polls. The chair of the London Young Liberals, Graham Tope, was the party’s candidate for the Sutton and Cheam parliamentary by-election. Few people believed that a Liberal win was possible.  We had come third in 1970, some 17,000 votes behind the Conservatives.

    Some people prominent in the national party were dismissive of the ‘community politics’ campaign that was brought to the by-election by a Liverpool Councillor called Trevor Jones.  Possibly the first ‘Focus’ leaflets outside Liverpool were produced for that by-election promoting the local Liberal campaigning led by …

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