Sometimes a book can change one’s life. It was reading Jonathan Porritt’s Seeing Green that first awakened my interest in politics and the environment. I was inspired to take on problems we face in our world and find ways to solve them. But, from the beginning, I always wanted to do this in an inclusive way. To me, being a liberal means wanting to see a world where everyone has the opportunity to realise their potential.
Equality, human rights and internationalism are central to my definition of Liberalism. That is why, in my time as an MP, I have been at the forefront of championing social change and equality – from proposing the amendment to abolish Section 28, to fighting for five years to have my constituent, Bisher al-Rawi, released from detention in Guantanamo Bay. I have not shied away from taking up difficult, and sometimes unpopular, causes to right past wrongs when I see them.
Liberalism is why I am in Politics.
In parliament, my record is clear. I have opposed the surveillance agenda, including draconian legislation bought in by both Labour and the Conservatives, and stood against ill-thought-out schemes from the Tories that could end up with unwanted and unwarranted internet censorship. It is well past time that we put forward liberal solutions to complex issues in place of the knee-jerk populist responses upon which the old, bigger parties continue to rely.
As Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, I had the opportunity to put my commitment to the environment into action. Quadrupling the use of wind energy in the UK made us THE global leader in wind energy. It was about protecting our planet while providing clean, affordable and secure energy for the people of Britain – but I know we have so much further to go.
Our Party has been at the forefront of efforts to tackle the Climate Emergency. We cannot allow the Government to continue to ignore the crisis we face. It is for this reason that decarbonising capitalism is a key component of my policy platform.
My own experiences growing up, caring for my mother, have shaped my worldview towards that of a more compassionate, liberal society. Since my return to parliament in 2017, it has been my honour to launch a campaign to secure rights and protections for homeless people who are terminally ill. I see my responsibility as representing all of my constituents – and particularly to speak up for those whose voices cannot be heard.
Many Liberal Democrats are looking for a leader who knows how to put liberal values into action. A leader who has a successful track record of delivering campaigns which change lives, who can win elections, and who can help build a better future.
This means strengthening diversity and being open to, and supportive of, change. In 2018, it was amazing to have had the chance to work with our superb Liberal Democrat team of councillors and local party members to make sure that we re-took control of the Borough of Kingston with the largest, most diverse, majority female, group of councillors we’ve ever elected.
We cannot rest on our recent success. There is still so much to do and it will not be easy. Both at home here in Britain, and around the world, we hear increasingly intolerant and extreme rhetoric. Politicians such as Nigel Farage and Donald Trump make scant attempt to curb their intemperate language, pitting one group against the other, and sowing dissent and division for personal gain. Some in the media have chosen irresponsibly to amplify this narrative.
We as Liberal Democrats, committed to building a better future for all, need a strong Liberal voice to counter the populist right and the far left. We need someone who can stand up to Nigel Farage and his ilk, as well as demonstrate that there are alternatives to the failed policies Labour is dusting off from the 1970s.
I’ve got the experience, the ability to translate liberal policy into action, and the vision for the future our country needs. With your support, I know that I am ready to lead our Party to take on and beat these challenges.