Lib Dem candidate for Sutton and Cheam smiling at camera

“It is a very sad situation”: Lib Dem candidate for Sutton and Cheam opens up on selection drama

The Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Sutton and Cheam has opened up about his late selection ahead of the general election.

Luke Taylor was selected in late May, a year and a half after the party’s controversial deselection of former prospective candidate David Campanale.

The long gap led to rumours of infighting within the Sutton Lib Dems, and limited Taylor’s campaign for the winnable seat to just six weeks ahead of July 4. 

Speaking to South West Londoner about Campanale’s deselection, Taylor said: “I was aware of it and it is a very sad situation.

“I know that there’s an appeal in process on the deselection but I don’t have time to think and worry about that — I believe that HQ are looking after all of that.”

Taylor attributed the slow reselection process partially to the party focusing on a council by-election in St Helier West ward in May, which was won by the Conservatives.

Eventually, Taylor won a members vote between him and Luisa Porritt, who stood for London Mayor earlier this year.

Taylor is a transport planner and councillor who has previously stood for the Lib Dems in Mitcham and Morden and Battersea. 

He said: “Working in the private sector for 15 years has meant that I have a lot of wide real-world skills that a lot of politicians don’t have.

“They’ve not worked with real clients, real teams, they’ve come through party offices or activism, whereas I very much came to politics from a community politics perspective.”

Credit: Sutton Liberal Democrats

Taylor grew up in Lincolnshire with teachers as parents, who he credited for his passion for education — particularly improving the state school system. 

The Sutton Lib Dems had a disappointing election in 2019, losing the Carshalton and Wallington seat to the Conservatives, a Lib Dem stronghold for the previous 22 years.

The Sutton and Cheam seat, where the Lib Dems had also had past success, was held by Tory Paul Scully.

Taylor said: “In 2019, with Brexit, the Liberal Democrats misjudged it and that’s why we went back in a lot of seats, particularly in Carshalton and Wallington where we so sadly lost Tom Brake.”

Turning to Sutton and Cheam, he continued: “Paul Scully has done nine years of public service and I’ve got a lot of respect for him.

“But I think that the mess that the government has made of the economic situation has meant that he has not been able to deliver on the promises that he’s made.

“On his website he still says that the new hospital in Belmont will be delivered in 2025 and clearly that’s not happening — not a brick has been laid. 

“He has been let down by his government as the Sutton and Cheam residents have as well.”

Looking forwards to this election, Taylor said: “This time it feels very different.”

He added that his work on the Lib Dem Sutton council had already helped him build trust with voters, explaining: “Having that regular contact with residents mean that when it does come to election and you’re asking people to go out and vote for you, you’ve already done the validating so you’re really just checking back in.

“Ultimately now it’s about making sure that we get the residents of Sutton and Cheam the chance for that change.”

Featured Image Credit: Sutton Liberal Democrats

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