Before You Vote on Thursday Read My 2020 Vision
We’re almost there.
It has been a great honour to pound the pavements and porches of Wantage constituency over the past months as your candidate. I know from the uplifting conversations that I’ve had on the doorstep that thousands of people want to install a dynamic local campaigner as their MP on May 8th. I am going to keep fighting right up to 10pm on Thursday to make sure you get just that.
I don’t have an 8ft tablet of stone, but one issue has been etched on my conscience by this campaign. We need planning reform and infrastructure investment in this constituency.
That would be my first priority as your MP.
There are planning reforms set out in the Liberal Democrat Manifesto to prioritise garden cities, release brownfield sites and give communities a right of appeal against bad planning decisions. That is the package I will start work to deliver on May 8th.
My main challenger in this constituency is Conservative Ed Vaizey who sneaked back in in 2010 on a promise not to ‘dump houses on local communities’. Ed is a fan of the housing policies in the Liberal Democrat manifesto (as he has quoted them at every major hustings), he is a committed pro-European and even spoke in favour of electoral reform at the last meeting. But even with the Conservatives drifting to the right, Ed’s defection to the Lib Dems in the next parliament is by no means guaranteed.
Therefore if you want the Liberal Democrats’ package of reform proposals on planning and a local champion who can deliver the infrastructure investment that we need, please vote Liberal Democrat on Thursday.
But I also want to encourage you to vote Liberal Democrat with a view to the sort of Britain you want for you and your family at the end of this coming parliament in 2020.
Will you, like me, have children or grandchildren in school in 2020? The Liberal Democrats launched our manifesto with a headline commitment to fund education properly from nursery to 19.
Will you and your family, like mine, be relying on the NHS or are elderly relatives likely to need support in 2020? The Liberal Democrats have a fully costed plan to give the NHS the funding it needs to maintain the service that we all cherish, to enhance mental health services and to integrate social care and the NHS.
Do you, like me, care about the environment, and want to see the green economy leading our growth in 2020? The Liberal Democrats have five green laws on the front page of our manifesto and continue to support investment in the green economy protecting thousands of green jobs in Oxfordshire.
These are some of the red lines for coalition negotiations for Lib Dems and reasons why I think the Liberal Democrats have the best 2020 vision for this country.
And there is one more thing.
I want a united, stable and tolerant Britain in 2020. A country that punches above its weight on the world stage, helps resolves conflict and humanitarian disasters abroad and treats those that come here to work with respect and decency. With a strong group of Liberal Democrat MPs (including one for Wantage) I am confident we can achieve that too.
But we should not be complacent about the threat posed by nationalists.
The rise of the SNP in Scotland has been well documented and there is no doubt that a Labour-SNP stich up will threaten our United Kingdom. But there is an equal threat of a Conservative-UKIP alliance turning our country inwards and backwards.
Such an arrangement would be designed to drive the UK into a divisive referendum on Europe that would put our fragile recovery in jeopardy, harm community relations and is unlikely (as we have seen in Scotland) to resolve the fundamental question definitively.
Liberal Democrats will fight tirelessly for Britain’s national interest and we will make the case for staying in Europe if a referendum is called. We just don’t think it’s the top priority until further powers are transferred to Brussels.
Our economy is growing, we have record employment and interest rates and inflation are at rock bottom. Those conditions will allow us to balance the books by 2018 and invest in our public services for the long term. That is the Liberal Democrat plan.
Nationalists and their sympathisers within Labour and Conservative parties threaten that long-term plan, either by breaking up the UK and borrowing more money or crashing the economy into an unnecessary referendum.
Only a strong Liberal Democrat influence on government can keep us on the stable, united course. That is why the Financial Times, the Economist and The Independent are all backing Lib Dem candidates in seats, like Wantage, where they have a chance of winning.
A vote for me on Thursday is a vote for a local champion and an environmentalist who will protect our countryside through planning reform. It is also a vote for a strong, stable economy with a commitment to public services and a tolerant liberal perspective.
I am offering a bright, sustainable 2020 vision for Wantage constituency and for Britain. I hope you can support me to help make it a reality on Thursday.