Liberal Democrats lay battle lines for possible general election in former Sutton & Cheam stronghold
The battle for residents’ votes has begun in Sutton & Cheam as the new Liberal Democrat candidate sent an early warning shot to the Conservatives.
Amna Ahmad, Oxford graduate and once a looked-after minor, was unveiled as the new Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for the south London seat last week.
Since the game changing general election in 2015, the former Lib Dem stronghold seat has been held by the Conservative MP Paul Scully.
“I am ready to campaign to represent Sutton & Cheam residents if a snap election is called,” said Ms Ahmad.
“The current MP has quickly become an establishment figure who will not admit the impact of his government’s cuts on local people and services.
“As the MP for Sutton & Cheam, I would bring energy, enthusiasm and hard work to the role to deliver results for local people.
“I got involved in politics because I want to make a difference – as a child I was a victim of domestic violence and spent some time in a foster home.
“I know what it is like not to have a voice and I want to make sure, that as an MP, I speak up for those in our community who need my help.”
Ms Ahmad is a former London Assembly candidate and a communications consultant, she received overwhelming support from her party during the selection process.
Enthused and eager to connect with residents, Ms Ahmad points to her south London roots and previous campaigning as her strengths.
“There is a strong liberal tradition in Sutton and as their Liberal Democrat candidate, I want to remind local residents of what a hardworking, energetic MP can achieve for them,” she said.
“This has been lacking since last year.”
Ms Ahmad outlined her three campaign priorities in case of a snap general election: more primary and secondary school places, better transport and protecting local health services.
She drew her manifesto from concerns voiced by residents, and joins fellow south west London politicians in condemning the government’s inaction over the ‘appalling’ state of Southern train services.
She had thrown her weight behind Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington, in his campaign to ‘sack Southern’.
The loss of all but one seat in London placed the Lib Dems on the back foot when it came to influence and representation in parliament.
But with a new Prime Minister, Brexit and a Labour party engaged in a vicious leadership battle, Ms Ahmad thinks that the Liberal democrats are well placed to fight a general election.
“At a national level, the Labour Party is embroiled in a civil war about its leadership when it should be holding the government to account at the most uncertain economic time since the recession’” she said.
“The Conservative party is bent on making local funding cuts and there is still no clear plan for Brexit or for healing our divided nation.
“There is a desperate need for strong liberal voices in the current debate, so as the Liberal Democrat MP for Sutton & Cheam, I can provide that by focusing on the things that matter most for my constituents rather than being distracted by childish politics.
The Liberal Democrats have taken to social media to increase participation and party leader Tim Fallon continues to urge supporters to come in from the cold.
Ms Ahmad said: “We had a phenomenal response to #libdemfightback. It was incredible and humbling to see thousands of people get invoked and active via social media.
“Social media is a part of everyday life for many people but we also need to make sure we do not exclude those who have access.
“I am active on Twitter for example and find it useful but ultimately, nothing replaces that personal connection.
“That’s why I want to reach out to young people about politics by speaking at schools.
“There is a lot of energy out there and I feel that our communities would be greatly enhanced with greater participation from young people, who are traditionally more disillusioned with politics.”
Strong, optimistic and determined to reach out, Ms Ahmad has a message for the residents of Sutton & Cheam.
“I have the passion and energy to fight for our area to ensure Sutton continues to have the best possible services and opportunities for young people whilst facing government funding cuts.”
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