Why I joined the Lib Dems and stood for election



I’ve supported the Lib Dems for as long as I can remember, but until now, only ever from the comfort of my sofa. I’ve always been interested in politics, I studied the subject at college and university, but never felt compelled to get involved.

So what prompted me aged 36 to join the party? Well, on the face of it, it’s easy: Brexit. The referendum result was my call to arms. Like many others I joined the party a few days after the vote, realising that it was time for apathetic liberals (small l) like myself to stand up and fight back.

Most of my adult life was spent in a political system dominated by the centre ground. As a second generation East European, I was proud to be part of a tolerant and generous society that welcomed everyone. Brexit woke me up to how quickly things can change. It was a stark reminder of how xenophobia and intolerance could become prevalent. All those history lessons about the 1930s suddenly began to make sense.

On reflection, the reason I didn’t didn’t get into politics earlier, was probably because I didn’t think I needed to. My views were mainstream and pretty well represented in politics. I joined the fight when I saw this change. The Liberal Democrats were the only party I could see that would be able to revive a fair and tolerant centre ground.

So that’s what brought me into the party, but why stand for election to the local council? Well, I’ve lived and worked in the Whitechapel area for the past 7 years and I care deeply about the neighbourhood my young family grows up in.

I recently began the hunt for my 2 year old daughter’s first school and was shocked to see first hand the challenges parents and teachers faced in the borough. I don’t want to rely on someone else to fix those problems for me. I had a fairly good comprehensive school education and was fortunate enough to get into Cambridge university, so I’d like my daughter and her friends here in Tower Hamlets to have at least the same opportunities I did.

So what qualifies me to be a councillor? Well, I’ve run my own businesses for the past 15 years and successfully grew an IT services company to £8m turnover and 300 employees. My latest venture, Squirrel, is a tech startup that helps people to budget and save. I know how to get things done, especially with the procurement of services and technology, an area I think the council can dramatically improve on. We need elected representatives who can get value from taxpayers money, I know I can do that. We need to bring better technology into public services, I can do that too.

There’s an extremely important parliamentary by-election happening on 1st December in Richmond, so our party resources are rightly being focused on helping Sarah Olney win that. Just spare a thought though for the smaller, but no less worthwhile battle we’re taking to Labour in Whitechapel that same day. If you can spare some time to help us here, we’ll welcome you with open arms! Find us here on Facebook.


* Emanuel Andjelic is a newbie who joined us after the referendum, now fighting the Whitechapel by-election on 1st December

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Welcome Emanuel.
    Where we work we win.

  • Thank you Emanuel, that is an inspiring piece. I feel that it is beholden on ‘oldies’ like me to make sure the Liberal Democrats are an open and welcoming party that encourages new members to get involved and to stand for election to party office, to council and for Parliament.

    When I joined the Liberal Party in 1973 we had 10 MPs. Now 43 years later we have 8 MPs (hopefully soon to be 9). Sometimes it seems as if my life’s work has been wasted. Then I draw hope for the future from our new generation of members and activists, our ‘newbies’ like Emanuel.

  • Matt (Bristol) 11th Nov '16 - 12:32pm


    Us ‘I-didn’t-give-active-politics-a-thought-until-my-late-30s’ people need to stick up for each other.

  • Nigel
    When I was born the Liberal Party received 2.55% of the vote.

  • Sue Sutherland 11th Nov '16 - 2:41pm

    Go Emanuel Go!

  • Simon Thomson 11th Nov '16 - 5:42pm

    Well done Emanuel!

    It’ll be tough in Whitechapel, but we can take the fight to the Labour Party in seats like this. I stood in a solid Labour ward in a Chorley that had not had a Liberal candidate for a number years and, despite these handicaps, we achieved 36% of the vote, finished a comfortable second. and reduced the Labour majority to 222. It was the biggest swing against Labour on the night in Chorley.

  • David Pocock 11th Nov '16 - 10:49pm

    Welcome to the party Emanuel. I joined in my 30s after the last election. I know exactly what you mean though about not being able to sit back anymore.

    Good luck with your election too.

  • Manfarang: 2.55 % of the vote was achieved with 110 seats being contested in 1951 – an average of about 14% per candidate compared to 8% in 2015, the lowest average share per candidate ever.

    The Liberal party had 6 MPs from 1951 until 1964, only Orkney and Shetland was also contested by both the bigger parties although Cardigan and Montgomery were retained in 1964 in 3 or 4 cornered fights. The party won 9 seats in 1964 and 12 in 1966 – all in competition with Labour and Conservative candidates, but fell to 6 in 1970 and up to 14 in February 1974, only dropping to single figures in 2015. A number of seats were also gained at by elections but only a few were retained for long.

  • Good luck!

    As someone who has worked in the NHS and local government, with occasional involvement in procurement, I can only agree that it is an entirely painful experience, but it is a common mistake of people in the private sector to think they can simply apply what they do efficiently in their own organisation to the public sector. It’s not just about scale, but at every step, we have to be able to prove we are being fair, and transparent, and not just giving contracts to our friends. A great many officer hours are spent demonstrating we are getting best value”, rather than giving a job to a firm you already know to be competent, cheap and with a good health & safety/environmental record. Large organisations that have dedicated teams to prepare tenders have a huge advantage over local suppliers who may know the job itself better. The challenge is being able to prove that it is better to go to the local supplier without it looking like they gave you a brown envelope.

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