Standing for parliament is similar to a job interview. The only difference is that instead of a panel of three or four people watching how you perform and interact, there are nearly 73,000 people watching how you do. Also, with just less than 100 days to go until the election, it is a very long interview.
My own political views were shaped during my teens with the backdrop of Tony Blair’s government and the Iraq invasion in 2003. The Liberal Democrats’ stance against the Iraq war led me to join the party during Freshers’ Fair when I started the University of Lincoln, but it was not the only thing that attracted me to the party.
One of the principles the Lib Dems were founded on is that no-one shall be “enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”. For me this is the most important aspect of being a Lib Dem – allowing someone to achieve their full potential no matter what their background.
I have not had a privileged upbringing, but my parents believed in helping me to reach the goals I aspired to. My dad worked as a carpenter in the building trade and my mum has worked both as a dinner lady and in retail. They worked hard and I never could ask for anything more than what they have done for me. I studied hard and, with the help of my parents and the staff at my old school of St Peter & St Paul’s, got good grades and became the first in my family to go to university.
I now want to help others reach their goals, dreams and ambitions; that is why I am a Liberal Democrat.
The other core principles the Lib Dems were built on are the “fundamental values of liberty, equality and community”.
The Lib Dems, and the Liberals before, have been at the forefront of issues such as human rights, the environment, devolution, social justice and many more, long before they have been taken seriously by the other main parties, often being ridiculed by them for raising these issues that affect so many people’s lives. It never stopped us and our resolve grew stronger.
Personally, the Lib Dems’ long history in supporting LGBT rights is another key element for me. As someone who has experienced homophobia and had friends attacked for being themselves shows that there is still a long way to go in the journey. Equal Marriage was a fantastic step by the coalition, but there is lots still to do especially we need to look at the way in which LGBT asylum seekers are treated.
Looking back over the last five years of coalition, I am proud that the Liberal Democrats have been able to implement policies that follow these principles – the increased numbers of apprenticeships and the Pupil Premium to help children from the poorest backgrounds, to scrapping ID cards and ending child detention, and giving an £800 tax cut to millions of workers.
If you believe in a society in which people have the freedom to be themselves and live without fear, a country which keeps its citizens’ privacy and human rights, a promise to preserve our planet for generations to come and a nation that helps an supports everyone from whatever background to achieve their potential in life then you are also a Liberal Democrat.