Having lived in South Cambs for over 10 years, I’ve got to meet many people - and feel that my values are shared by so many people here. Here I set out some thoughts on why I’m in politics.
A healthy planet for future generations. From extreme heat in Canada to wild fires in Australia to flooding in Europe, we are living now through the impacts of the climate crisis. At the same time, we are seeing loss of nature at an alarming rate, with species at risk of extinction and the fragile ecosystems that support our way of life, from the Amazon rainforest to chalk streams closer to home, on the brink of collapse.
Tackling these challenges has been my life’s work. We cannot afford to wait any longer. Fine words and targets from the Government is not enough. We need to call out the greenwash and push for urgent action now – to decarbonise our homes, our transport, our workplaces – and to restore nature across our towns and villages. I am very proud to have contributed to the Liberal Democrat Zero Carbon policy and am honoured to be working on our party’s Natural Environment policy.
An economy fit for the future. I believe we need a transformed economic model, where market principles drive innovation and growth, but supported by a strong social foundation – and constrained by the planetary boundaries we need to consider if we are to pass on a safe planet to future generations.
As a businesswoman myself, I am a firm believer in the power of small businesses as the engine of prosperity across our country. We need to support local businesses that are facing up to the challenges of the 21st century – by investing in skills and putting in place the infrastructure needed to keep jobs closer to where people live. The green industrial revolution is a huge opportunity to create tens of thousands of jobs – and here in South Cambs we could lead the way.
We are stronger when we work together. I have worked internationally for much of my career and love talking with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds, and finding common ground. It’s clear that to tackle the world’s greatest challenges, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the climate crises, we need to work together. That means supporting and strengthening the role of the UN and embracing a close relationship with the EU. The war in Ukraine has shown us how fragile our security is. I have been appalled at the delays in action to bring Ukrainian refugees to the UK. We must do more to show international solidarity in times of crises. I have seen first hand the vital role of international aid in saving and improving lives, and would fight for the UK to restore our 0.7 % commitment to foreign aid.
Creating a society where everyone can flourish. The UK is the fifth most unequal country in Europe, with Cambridge the most unequal city in Britain. We need to root out this inequality in our society, through investment in education. As a former teacher, I know full well that early years and free school meals are critical to attainment later in life. Yet governments waste millions on constant reorganisation, pet projects like free schools and academies, and on continual testing rather than focussing on the basics – improving the quality of teaching, and the support for children with special educational needs and disabilities. We are now seeing the devastating impacts of the pandemic on so many of our children, with the woeful catch up provision offered by the government nowhere close to filling the gap.
We need increased action now to support the children who risk being left behind. And we need to support teachers, through increased pay and conditions, and provide more support for training and professional development.
Our health and social care system is on the brink. We are seeing the impact here in Cambridgeshire, with ambulances queued up outside Addenbrookes, unable to hand over patients due to lack of beds, and waiting times for surgery on the rise. The staffing crisis needs urgent attention. The 1% pay increase awarded to medical staff during the pandemic was insulting - we need to do so much better than that.
Our social care system was already in peril pre-pandemic with care homes on the brink of closing. As a result of disastrous decisions at the beginning of the pandemic, 40,000 elderly people lost their lives and many of them were robbed of the possibility to see a loved one. As a carer myself, looking after my Mum, I understand how non-professional carers are forgotten and invisible, despite two in three reporting mental health problems. We need a proper, joined-up health and social care system and serious government funding now.
Strong local democracy to bring positive change. Community has always been so important to me – I believe in the power of strong communities, both for the individual, to improve wellbeing and resilience, to give a sense of place and belonging, and for the population as a whole, to bring about positive change.
The current Government seem obsessed with weakening local democracy - from introducing mandatory ID for voting, and scrapping the proportional system for mayoral elections, to their appalling planning proposals, thankfully now scrapped, which would have taken decisions away from local communities. I stand firmly against these proposals and argue strongly that we should be strengthening the voice of local communities in decisions that affect their area.