Why we need a liberal movement to take on Johnson & Farage

July 23, 2019 12:03 PM
By Jo Swinson
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Deciding to run for leader was not something I did lightly. This party has a history of leaders who had a huge impact on British politics, including people like Charles and Paddy, heroes of mine who I was so lucky to be able to know and work with.

I believe you should only apply for a job like this if you have a clear idea of what you'll do if you get it. Equally, I want you to know what to expect if you decide to give me your support.

Firstly, I want you to know that there is no limit to my ambition for the Liberal Democrats. We are just now seeing the tide turn in our favour. We have 704 new Councillors and 16 new fantastic MEPs, and are becoming the rallying point for the millions of voters who reject the nationalism and populism of people like Farage and Johnson. The challenge for the next leader is no longer rescuing us from 8% in the polls but instead how to push us past 20%.

I firmly believe that to do that, we need to build a bigger, liberal movement which welcomes all those who share our values. Tribal lines, designed only to divide, are the tools of the populists like Farage and I completely reject them. I am always going to choose to work with others where our interests align, as I've demonstrated by playing a leading role in the People's Vote campaign. There is simply no way that, going it alone as Liberal Democrats, we could have turned a final say on the Brexit deal from a distant dream to a genuine prospect with widespread public and political support.

By working with others on issues where we agree, we can achieve so much more.

And that doesn't just mean stopping Brexit. That is, and will remain, my number one priority, but the liberal movement I want to build is going to do so much more. The climate emergency gives us both an urgent challenge and a unique opportunity. We will demand a new approach to how we view our economy, moving away from GDP as the sole indicator of success and instead seeing climate impact and people's wellbeing as equally important. We'll campaign for this approach both nationally and locally, through our fantastic representatives in the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and in town halls across the country.

We must also make sure that we are at the centre of the debate on new technology. Automation, if properly utilised, could have a huge impact on how we all live. We are on the cusp of a technological revolution and as liberals we have a unique perspective to bring. It is vital that our voices are heard loud and clear.

I believe that as leader I can put the Liberal Democrats at the heart of these debates, attracting new supporters to grow our movement and generating even more momentum for our campaigns across the country. This is my ambition for our party, if you share it, please support me.