...a blog by Richard Flowers

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Day 6514: Making the Case (part one)


Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

One day the tale of the Cheadle selection will be told. But not today.

The short version is: when Mark Hunter lost the seat in 2015, we stepped up to try to win it back. We fought a positive, honest, values-driven Liberal campaign… but they chose someone else.

No regrets. That’s democracy. We had a fun ride along the way.

Thanks to Dave, Holly, Andrew and Daddy Alex

But we DO want to keep on taking a stand for Liberal Values and giving Britain a Liberal Voice.

Because Britain NEEDS to hear Liberal Voice.

Perhaps it’s best is I let Daddy Ricard explain, with his hustings speech:

Good evening.

I’m really pleased to see so many people here.

Because tonight is important, for our future, our community, even our country.

We need a Liberal Voice and we need that voice to be heard.

Throughout this campaign, I’ve been talking about our Liberal values.

About how Britain needs to hear those values again,

About how we need to connect to people through those values we share.
Our values should never be an add-on, an extra, an afterthought. They should be driving what we do.

Values that speak to our supporters, like:

Equality and social justice. Environmentalism.

Free trade, free movement of people and multiculturalism.

A Britain that’s open and welcoming instead of nationalist.

In short: Freedom. Fairness. The Future.

But we need to go further. To reach out to people who don’t support us yet, but who share values, like:

compassion, workers’ rights and animal welfare

aspiration, rewarding work, and social mobility

pro-business, pro-environment, pro-diversity

Freedom. Fairness. The Future. can reach those people too.

Above all, we need to offer hope for a better future.

So, let’s talk about Cheadle.

Cheadle voted to remain. People here are outward looking, forward looking, persuaded that it’s better to be a part of a common goal that helps everyone.

We share those values.

Stockport had a Lib Dem Council for more than a decade. And it shows. This town feels cared for, optimistic, friendly.

We share those values.

Cheadle has a liberal legacy we should be proud to inherit and uphold. From Michael Winstanley, back in the day, to Patsy, who we miss so much, to Mark, who was an exemplary local MP.

Cheadle’s values are our values.

We should be winning here.

But we’re not.

As our party’s new slogan says, people should Demand Better. And that starts with demanding better of ourselves.

Many of you have campaigned here all your lives. And you’re brilliant.

But we’re not winning here.

So we need to do something more, something different. We need to demand better.

I have a good local story to tell. I grew up here. Went to school here. Went to London for work. Came back to get married here. My husband was born in Stepping Hill. We’ve made a home here.

But that is just the start of the story.

Anyone can tell a local story. We know that Labour do it. Even Mary Robinson, the invisible MP, does it.

If we are going to win, we need to do more. And different. And better.

That is why I talk about our values.

The Tories and Labour have the advantage. Their messages are easy. Vote Labour for fear of Tory austerity, or vote Tory for fear of Jeremy Corbyn.

We need to change the story, make it: "who represents your values?".

We must always campaign on the bedrock of our local story.

But we must build on that with our values in order to win.

My local story is the start of a conversation about our great schools in Cheadle not getting a fair deal. But it’s our values that say why schools are important for opportunity and social mobility.

My local story is the start of a conversation about housing and traffic on the A6 and A34. But it’s our values that say it’s about defending the environment for the future and building sustainable communities.

And it’s our values that have driven me to add national experience to my story too.

With Lib Dem Immigrants, I’ve changed party policy for the better, for fairness.

During the coalition, I brought together a group that changed Nick Clegg’s mind on the Snooper’s Charter, for freedom.

And through LGBT+ Liberal Democrats we got the biggest win of our time in government, for me anyway, the right to marry my husband four years ago this week at Stockport Town Hall and make our future together.

And when we lost most of our MPs we lost all our diversity.

Not just all our women, but all our gay and bi MPs too.

Last year we won back four women MPs. We have an ethnic minority MP for the first time in a decade. We have an MP with a disability.

Our Parliamentary Party should represent the face of Britain, and deserves to have LGBT representation again too.

It’s our values that mean I have made a difference.

For freedom and fairness and the future.

And I’m still learning.

One thing I’ve learned talking to so many of you, is that there is always much more to learn. There is so much wisdom among our members.

So please demand better of me.

But never doubt I will try to deliver.

I never thought of becoming an MP.

I spent twenty years working at an ordinary job.

But like a lot of you, I got more involved because I could see that something had to be done and no-one else was doing it.

When we lost in here in 2015, I stepped up to try to win us back seats on the Council, working in Cheadle Hulme, standing in Bramhall.

When Macclesfield Lib Dems needed a candidate last year just weeks before the General Election, I stepped up. And I found I was good at it – as well as bringing their team to campaign here where they could make more of a difference.

So when I look at the state of our country and the voices on the political stage right now, I know that I have to step up again.

Listen to the division, the anger and the hurt blighting our politics, and you will hear a country that needs Liberal values.

That is why I want to be your MP.

Because Britain needs people like me to be MPs.

To be a local champion – giving us a national voice – with a positive Liberal message.

To win back this seat, we need to get organised.

We need to raise a lot of money.

Above all we need to talk to people, more people than we’ve talked to in years.

And it is talking about our values that will enthuse people, recruit new members, and give people a positive reason to vote Liberal Democrat.

In 2017, we lost here because Labour took that message of hope, even though it was fantasy.

We cannot let that happen again.

We have to tell people that if they want a better future, it’s got to be the Liberal Democrats.

I know it’s going to be hard work – I’m not afraid of hard work.

I will give Cheadle a positive Liberal reason to want to vote Liberal Democrat.

I will deliver every street, canvass every ward, speak with every voter that I can.

And I will give a voice to our Liberal values on a local and a national stage because Britain needs to hear a Liberal Voice.

And you’re all going to need to play your part. We will all need to speak up. Because winning means making our voices heard together.

And we have to start right now.

Because Brexit is happening right now.

No one is speaking for the majority in Cheadle who voted Remain.

The two Brexit parties Tory and Labour have abandoned them.

Tories are telling business to … "go away"; Jeremy Corbyn is backing the biggest job killer of all time.

But our values can speak to them and speak for them.

We must speak up as the only party whose values are pro-business, pro-jobs and pro-rights at work.

We must be positive for Remain: we say “Exit from Brexit” because we are for a better Britain in a better Europe.

All my adult life, I’ve been campaigning, talking with people for liberal causes.
If you’ll have me, Cheadle will be all of my life.

Friends, Liberal Democrats… let me be your voice.

A local champion giving us a national voice – and with something to say.

Speak up for Cheadle.

Speak up for Britain.

Speak for Liberal Values, the Values that made you join the Liberal Democrats.

Speak up for winning this seat back. And together we will win.

Please, tonight, give me your first preference.

Thank you.

In Part Two (found HERE) we’ll share some of the literature we sent out.

And in Part Three (link HERE) we'll show you our email manifesto.

We’re going to take a break from the frontlines for a little while – good news! Daddy can do my diary more! – but we will take stock and be back.

And in the meantime, if there’s a constituency out there who want to fight a positive campaign for Liberal values, and you’re looking for a top-notch candidate… well, get in touch.

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