Welcome! I was elected as the Liberal Democrats Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip in late March 2019.
Who am I and why am I standing?
I grew up in North West England (in Stockport), and was the first in my family to go to university. My mum is from Yorkshire and my father a Londoner, from Fulham, who was a Halifax pilot in World War 2, and who taught me always to fight injustice and stand up for the vulnerable, whatever the personal cost. He died when I was in my second year at university; my mum is still with us – somewhat frail but as feisty a northerner as ever…
I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to do with my life after school: I did set out to become a musician but damaged my wrist during my A levels. I worked in a bar, eventually going to university to study English along with some Languages and Linguistics (University of York). Then I went back to bar work. Then I did an MA in Editing and Publishing History (University of Birmingham), more bar work, then finally settled on a PhD (York).
My thesis was on the first spin doctor in England, and I have been fascinated with, researched and published ever since on how the media are used to manipulate the general public. I started out examining it historically; now my attention is firmly in the present. I have to do something, and I have the skills to spot, challenge and debunk the lies and spin now crippling this country (and others).
I was fortunate enough to have my first academic position at the University of Cambridge, moving to Brunel University in Uxbridge in 2007. My first lectures at Cambridge discussed propaganda in the press and the proroguing of parliament in the lead-up to Civil War… At Brunel I focused on Christo-Islamic relations and how there have always been individuals willing to stand against hateful rhetoric, whatever the cost.
Whilst at Brunel, I also became a Fellow at Harvard University where I undertook social cohesion activities (outreach that helped build communities, bring them together, help them to grow – socially and economically). This work was funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, for which I am eternally grateful, since they believed in my abilities to be a force for good in society, and helped me develop my professional interest in politics.
I left Brunel in late 2017 and am now a Director of a charity tackling online hate and harm. I am also an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Oxford.
I am standing because – despite being outraged by austerity and student fees – I still believe in the central mission of the Liberal Democrats:
“The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. … We believe that people should be involved in running their communities.” https://www.libdems.org.uk/constitution
I am also unequivocally Remain. As someone who also works in international research and policy, I understand the damage Brexit will cause – not least to our NHS; it will kill it.
It is vital that we work together and support each other, irrespective of our cultural background, race, creed, and sexuality. In a world of so much hate, we must be the good and change we want to see.
I am standing because Uxbridge and South Ruislip deserve an MP who – hand on heart – will truly represent everyone. I cannot get past the determination by so many MPs and PPCs to ridicule, deride, and divide communities with their rhetoric. How – if you dismiss a portion of your community (usually but not always for their political stance), then how can you say that you will truly represent them once you’ve won. How do you expect that person to trust you, to come to you in their moment of need, to feel valued?
I am also making a stand to make it clear that we have to be more than mere political tribes and colours. Tribalism is the reason we are in the mess in which we find ourselves now. Turning on each other, picking at people, deriding, mocking – simply because you think you know who that person is – their hopes, fears, their essence – because they have a red rose or an orange triangle next to their social media handle, is exactly what this government wants. I may be a Lib Dem but we are ALL so much more.
Spin works. Spin wins.
But there is another way.
I am determined to be a voice of reason, calling for dialogue and transparency in politics, in the midst of all the hate and tribalism. I have spent 20+ years as an academic, tackling hate speech, advocating for dialogue and compassion across communities and parties, and having the difficult conversations that must be had if we are to find a way forward in this country, our communities, our political representation.
I will not be goaded, and I will not be bullied. I am compassionate and caring – whoever you are – and I will always – ALWAYS – stand for what is good and what is just. Uxbridge and South Ruislip have been used and let down by Johnson to serve his own agenda, his own ambition. I will do all I can to ensure that the good people of this constituency are put first. We can do this and, in the wake of Johnson’s proroguing of parliament as I update this, we must.