This map may resemble the route of one of Ian Botham’s never-ending charity walks or the British leg of the Tour de France where the organiser forgets to place a finishing line.
But it’s actually a record of my campaigning odyssey to become leader of our party.
I’ve loved every minute – from Aberdeen to Penzance. Like my hero Paddy Ashdown and indeed most Liberal Democrats, I’m happiest out of Westminster meeting people – or, when with our brilliant Brecon candidate, Jane Dodds, meeting the odd sheep while clambering barbed wire fences. (Have you been to B&R yet?!)
I’ve been gate-crashed in Nottingham by Steve Bray, the amazing Stop Brexit campaigner – so we performed a great Stop Brexit duet; I’ve climbed a wind turbine in North Cornwall whilst campaigning to decarbonise capitalism; and I’ve endured the vagaries of the rail network – as I’m calling for rail improvements to discourage internal flights, my campaign is flight-free, to the occasional frustration of my diary manager.
On Sunday, after a head-to-head with Andrew Marr, I sacrificed all prospect of watching the Cricket and Wimbledon to go and speak to members in Oxford – and was welcomed by a healthy crowd, despite the competition!
My main takeaway of the campaign is whoever wins this contest will be incredibly privileged to lead this party’s 107,000 members. I hope it’s me, of course, so I can deliver my long-term vision for the future of our party – on stopping Brexit, and beyond. But the next Leader will enjoy a vibrant party fizzing with ideas and energy.
Politics needs causes – alone among Britain’s political parties we are united by our determination to stop Brexit. Hustings have shown me we all share the belief that stopping Brexit is much bigger than party politics, and so many of you have responded warmly to my call for a temporary Government of National Unity, to deliver a People’s Vote.
But you have also responded to my ideas about our purpose after we’ve stopped Brexit – on healing the divisions and inequality that caused Brexit, on becoming THE party of the environment, ready to tackle the climate crisis, and on giving the country hope again, with new opportunities for our young people through huge investment in education and training.
A leadership candidate willing and ready to be our first Liberal Democrat Prime Minister must set out their priorities for a programme for Government, and as I’ve toured the country, I hope you feel I’ve done that.
From my plan to Stop Brexit, to my agenda of a “Remain dividend” aimed at ushering in a green revolution to transform the infrastructure of “left-behind” communities. From my focus on a new council house building programme and revitalising local government, to my mission to make the UK the best educated and trained country in the world, within a decade.
We can have the platform to attract both lifelong Conservative and Labour voters – and win.
And wherever I’ve been, my message has been met with enthusiasm and support. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.