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Growing stronger by the day

September 16, 2016 2:43 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Siobhan Benita, former Independent Mayoral Candidate, now a Liberal Democrat."A consistent, positive party"

Siobhan Benita, independent candidate in the 2012 mayoral election

I'd always felt an affinity with the Liberal Democrats, and when I ran for mayor in 2012, I suggested to Brian Paddick that we join forces, as our manifestos were so similar.

Having worked in the civil service for so long, I had become slightly cynical about political parties, and therefore nervous about joining one, but Brexit was the final 'stop thinking and actually do it' moment. I joined the Lib Dems on the day the result was announced.

I had become slightly cynical about political parties, and therefore nervous about joining one, but Brexit was the final 'stop thinking and actually do it' moment.

From a party point of view, the Lib Dems were the only ones with a consistent and positive message about EU membership.

And the party's line now - that we will fight to stay in the EU, or re-enter - is a really important one that no one else is saying.

There were big issues that were underplayed in the run-up to the referendum, such as the fact that the EU had been such a positive force for peace in Europe. I think it was only Tim Farron and Nick Clegg who were trying to say those things, and maybe it wasn't heard through the awful noise that was the campaign.

The Lib Dems have a fight on their hands but they have won some council seats lately, and - depending on the Labour leadership result - I think there are going to be a lot of centre/centre-left people looking for a longer-term sustainable party.

People are also beginning to realise you need a consistent, robust opposition - a party that is challenging and holding the party to account. Labour isn't doing that at the moment, so hopefully there's another way in which the Lib Dems can come through.

So, yes, it might be difficult for a while, but the Lib Dems have already shown they can play a really significant role in this country.

Now is the time to seize the moment.


Clare Gerada, former Labour voter and Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, now a Liberal Democrat.

'Fighting for our future'

Clare Gerada, Former Chair of the Council of the Royal College of General Practitioners

I had been a Labour supporter since I first voted, around the age of 17, but I'd become disillusioned with the party since the last General Election. At the same time, I was increasingly impressed with the Liberal Democrats.

Since the Conservatives have been in power, it's been absolute bedlam, and I take my hat off to the Lib Dems because I think they did a superb job while in Coalition Government, but we never really realised that at the time.

My decision to join the party had been brewing for a while, but the Brexit result was the final straw. Staying in the EU would have protected all the parts of Britain that we were proud of - our education system, health service and social services, which are rapidly disappearing.

As the only 'all-in' party, the Lib Dems should have received more airtime, as all the public had to listen to were UKIP, Cameron and Osborne - who no one trusts - and a half-hearted attempt by Labour.

What really strikes me about the Lib Dems is how young the members are. It's wonderful to see all these fresh faces, and it feels very different to other parties - it feels very hopeful.

The Liberal Democrats have an unbelievable opportunity now to create a unity party, bringing in all those who are straggling at the edges.

The Liberal Democrats have an unbelievable opportunity now to create a unity party, bringing in all those who are straggling at the edges, even parliamentarians. I'm very happy to do whatever is needed and to help them unreservedly, because I want my children to grow up in a society that's fairer than the one we've had for the past 20 years.


Ivan Massow, former Conservative candidate for London Mayor, entrepreneur and founder of www.equal.london, now a Liberal Democrat.

'A party for the economy and for business'

Ivan Massow, entrepreneur and founder of www.equal.london

I'd been with the Conservatives since I was 14, but moved over to the Lib Dems early this year.

It's the second time I've left the Tories - the first was to try and force the party to become more centreground, and I knew that my leaving would make the headlines.

This time I moved over quietly.

I had no particular axe to grind with the Conservatives, but felt that my work to bring them more central was done, and that I could walk away and be a member of a party that is more relevant to my sensibilities.

After seeing the Lib Dems' work in Coalition, and seeing them step up to the responsibilities of government, I felt I had more in common with them. I hadn't realised the Lib Dems could be a party of government before Coalition - and I know they took a huge hit for doing it - but I think they proved themselves and were a great party for the economy and a great help for business.

My hope is that the Lib Dems becomes a natural home for those people who fall to the centre of the two main parties.

My hope is that the Lib Dems becomes a natural home for those people who fall to the centre of the two main parties. I have a lot of friends in the Tory and Labour parties who I think are very close to the Liberal Democrats' philosophy.

I'd really like it if they would consider joining up to strengthen the party and to help it take the position it actually deserves - second or, potentially, even first place.