I have had a number of approaches since the election was called, from people who are keen on an anti-Conservative alliance in this constituency.
It is unsurprising that a number of local and outside candidates were interested in taking on the Conservative candidature for this constituency when Sir Alan Haselhurst was “encouraged” by his local association into retirement. I wish the successful candidate Kemi Badenoch, from London, good luck in this short election campaign as she tries to get to know this wonderful area and its people. I am certain she will not take the fruits of Sir Alan Haselhurst’s 40 years’ of labour for granted.
That a London-based candidate has been parachuted into a constituency – already well-endowed with local talent – is irksome to some. Others lament the rightward and intolerant lurch of Theresa May’s government. Whilst Sir Alan and I disagreed on many matters, there is no doubt that he was part of a moderate Conservative element that is now withering on the vine at Westminster.
Let me be clear, I agree with Tim Farron, there can be no coalition locally or nationally with Labour. I understand that many would like progressive politicians to work together in challenging Conservative policy – be it Hard Brexit, grammar schools, the environment, housing (this list is long…).
I do have a track record of working across the party divide in local government and I promise to take this to Westminster. However, it is clear that under its current leadership, there is little common ground to be had with the Labour Party. Their record in Westminster has been lamentable and they must accept a large share of the responsibility for allowing Theresa May a free-run at implementing a hard Brexit.
Now more than ever, I am proud to stand as a Liberal Democrat. We have a distinctive and progressive agenda that I am excited to put forward during this election.