This year, I am standing in Dudley South for the Liberal Democrats at the General Election. I have three reasons for doing this.
First, it is absolutely essential for democracy to survive and to thrive that people put themselves forward for election. I’ve too often heard people say — in different parts of the country, and with different parties as ‘x’ — “there’s no point voting here, the x-party always gets in” or “there’s no point standing here — you could put a blue/red/yellow rosette on a donkey here and they would still win”. The truth is, no-one knows the outcome until the election is fought, but without candidates, there is no democracy at all.
Second, I believe every voter should be able to choose the party that they most support. There is a solid under-current of Liberal Democrats in almost every seat in England, Scotland and Wales. Every one of them should have a Liberal Democrat candidate they can vote for.
Third, and most importantly, I believe that what most voters fundamentally want is what the Liberal Democrats offer — even if many voters are not aware of this. The parties of left and right talk about stark choices, they paint pictures of how Britain will collapse into compassionless capitalism or chaotic socialism if the other party gets in, and they position themselves as the radical champions of their cause. What voters actually want — and what the country genuinely needs — is the reasonable party of the centre ground. Swinging from left to right or right to left is almost certainly nowhere near as dangerous as those parties make out, but Britain is nonetheless in a far better position sticking with the middle ground.
Liberal Democrats will cut less than the Tories, and borrow less than Labour. We have proven ourselves in government. We have learned how to make tough choices, and also, in a time of tough choices, how to continue to protect the most vulnerable, give help where it is needed, reduce taxes for the many not the few, and invest in a fairer society, a stronger economy, and opportunities for everyone.