We’ve already won – in so many ways

Our candidate in Walsall North, Isabelle Parasram, has written this letter to her supporters and we are pleased to share it with you.

Hello!

I’m writing to thank you for supporting me in my first campaign to stand for Parliament on behalf of the Liberal Democrats.

Though I didn’t win a seat in Walsall North this time ‘round, my campaign wasn’t all about gaining a seat for myself. Of course I gave it everything I had, but I wanted to see others win too.

My heart goes out to those candidates whom I campaigned for in one way or another, but who didn’t gain a seat: Ade Adeyemo (Solihull), Daisy Cooper (St Albans), Amna Ahmad (Sutton and Cheam), Ben Sims (Leyton/Wanstead) and Sarah Olney (Richmond).

Their constituencies have missed out on having a great MP…

But we, as a campaign team and as a Party did win in so many other ways.

  • We won by having our number of MPs increase by 50%.
  • We won by seeing our first ethnic minority MP be elected.
  • We won by knowing that 1/3 of our MPs are now women.
  • We won by experiencing an increase in our membership to over 100,000.

I’ve also won through the relationships I’ve developed with people I’d never otherwise have met.

Without the Campaign for Gender Balance and, specifically, my mentor, Julia Cambridge, I wouldn’t have been an approved candidate this May.

After being given the backing of my Redbridge Local Party to stand in the West Midlands, I had the privilege of getting to know and work with the members and Executive of Walsall North. One local member, Patrick, became my Organiser and enabled me to build networks within the local community.

The magnificent Baroness Lorely Burt, Jock Gallagher, Bhanu Dhir and the Regional Campaign Team championed me and buoyed up the West Midlands candidates in what was a very difficult battleground.

I gained a marvellous friendship network in the Solihill Campaign Team. We exchanged mutual assistance. Key members of the team, Richard and Helen hosted and welcomed me.

I even got the stamp of approval from Margaux, my hosts’ cat – despite the fact that she initially sought to imprison me in my bedroom by sprawling herself across the landing outside. This presented me with a moral dilemma, as I’d have had to step on her to get down the stairs. Margaux didn’t seem to care that I was meeting Tim Farron. However, she finally relented by shifting an inch, which allowed me to manoeuvre past her by inelegantly plastering myself to the wall…I’m taking this as her eventual acceptance of me!

My campaign was underpinned by my children’s schools and my family, friends and staff who took the pressure off numerous aspects of my domestic, personal and business life during my campaign. Many, including my Church family, upheld me in prayer.

On election night, I saw the statistics for our efforts in black and white. I must admit that, initially, I was disappointed that I hadn’t achieved some of my goals for Walsall North.

But, as my friend and colleague, Ade Adeyemo told me early on in my campaign, a great political candidate is also a great leader. And great leaders view apparent failure as merely a watering hole on the journey to success.

I don’t just want to be a leader. I want to be a great leader.

So, with the endorsement of my Agent, Roy and my Chair, David, I intend to continue in my roles as Spokesperson on Brexit for the West Midlands and Parliamentary Representative for Walsall North for the foreseeable future.

For me, that means continuing to meet with, advocate and campaign for charities, community organisations and local people, both within Walsall North and the wider West Midlands region. It also means continuing to walk with fellow candidates on their paths to standing for Councils and Parliament.

I’ll end by sharing a story. On the night of the election, a key member of a ‘rival’ team came up to me, gave me a hug (and a kiss!) and, speaking on behalf of his peers said, “We all judged you before we’d even met you, but, now that we know you, we want to tell you how much we respect you.” I’ve had many such conversations with opposing parties and voters alike.

It’s incredible to think that, through my hard work, conduct and attitude towards others, I can have an impact like that on the ‘opposition’. Can you imagine what I could do within a community? But I can’t do it alone.

If that’s the way that you’d like to ‘do’ politics, I invite you to join me.

Whilst my 2017 Walsall North statistics weren’t great, they didn’t take into account the fact that my aims in politics aren’t just about winning a seat. And, most importantly, they aren’t just about me. My political journey isn’t faltering, halted or over. It’s only just beginning.

So, if you’d like to journey with me, here’s the foundation I’m building on:

“We’ve already won – in so many ways.”

 

* Isabelle Parasram is the Vice President of the Liberal Democrats.

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12 Comments

  • Frances Alexander 15th Jun '17 - 3:15pm

    Isabelle – Well done! And keep going – you are needed.

  • Inspiring post.

  • Yellow Submarine 15th Jun '17 - 8:06pm

    It’s a great post in that it demonstrates how even defeated election campaigns can build capacity and capacity is the only way forward. But it does rather show how the party has been knocked back to the early 1970’s.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th Jun '17 - 1:11am

    Isabelle writes the sort of positive warm piece that gives us reason to further regret she was not elected!

    So much that is negative on here and everywhere online and the news.

    This party has so much going for it and so many good people .

    So few are ruining it.

    I do not just mean in the days before or after the resignation of our leader.

    Too much bitterness inside and out and recrimination unsettled over the years some cannot get over in the period of coalition.

    I think if Norman Lamb would stand for the leadership he is the sort of measured person who might lead us well. But dare one say it amidst such anger.

    Otherwise I think we need to be more radical in our choice and I back then , Layla Moran and a new direction!

  • Such a fabulously positive response to what will have been an exhausting campaign.
    One correction:
    “We won by seeing our first ethnic minority MP be elected.”
    It should read:
    “We won by seeing our first female ethnic minority MP be elected.”

    The Liberals had an ethnic minority MP elected in 1892, the LibDems unfortunately took from 1989 to 2004 to elect the first from the combined party and that didn’t last long. We have a bad record of representation in this area but let’s not make it worse than it is (the numbers are low enough already)…

    But it is excellent we have Layla in the commons and that is certainly a win to celebrate.

  • Isabelle Parasram 17th Nov '17 - 7:25am

    You are entirely correct, Psi! In fact, I have just had the privilege of giving a speech to the London Lib Dems about our first ethnic minority MP – Dadabhai Naoroji. I agree that we need a more diverse membership and, thereby, a more diverse group of candidates (and, hopefully, MPs!) I am working hard – along with many other Lib Dems – on improving our diversity and inclusivity, particularly given my recent appointment as Vice Chair Elect of Lib Dem Women. Great to hear from you, Isabelle

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