On 1st May 1997 I was first elected MP for Kingston and Surbiton – by just 56 votes.
Back then, local services were struggling – many children were educated in classes of 35 or more, Kingston Hospital’s Accident and Emergency was in crisis and local police were overstretched - Chessington had just a single part time police officer!
But together, we worked to turn that round, and we did. But now I am deeply concerned that with a Conservative government, Conservative Council and Conservative MP - all committed to spending cuts and ‘hard’ Brexit - we are already seeing a return to the bad times.
Kingston’s headteachers have warned of £6 million cuts to our schools – with 160 teachers’ jobs threatened. Kingston Hospital missed its targets for A&E this winter and is running a substantial deficit. Many of its staff are from the EU and are worried about their future. And local police numbers are now plummeting - down by 27 since the last election.
So this campaign is about stopping these Conservative cuts to essential local public services. And of course, it’s also about stopping the Conservatives’ extreme ‘hard’ Brexit. Only the Liberal Democrats will fight to keep the UK in the single market and protect jobs.
Every Liberal Democrat MP elected puts pressure on Theresa May to change direction on our vital public services and on Brexit. And let’s keep this a positive campaign on the issues that matter. People are fed up with politicians who deal in smear and innuendo and who break the rules for their own political advantage. I hope my opponents will resist this temptation and fight a clean campaign so Kingston and Surbiton voters get the grown-up debate they deserve.