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“A liberal city at heart”: why Sue Wixley chose to call London home

The Liberal Democrat candidate for the London Assembly in Merton & Wandsworth claims her political ideas reflect her belief that London is at heart a liberal city.

Sue Wixley, who is running against incumbent Labour Assembly member Leonie Cooper, feels that her party will benefit from this in the upcoming local elections.

The Liberal Democrats need a stronger showing than in 2016, when they secured just one of the 25 Assembly seats on offer, less than both UKIP and the Greens on two.

Wixley said: “I think sometimes, certainly, with the general election, people often vote defensively or they vote for the least worst option.

“Here in the London Assembly, they have the chance to vote for an option that most represents their desires and their values.

“Sometimes I think that because this is my adopted country, I feel even more annoyed and responsible for where things are going.

“I didn’t just happen to live here, I wasn’t just born here. I chose this country, and I chose it for its generosity of spirit.

“I think the Liberal Democrats have a history of standing up against racism and hate crime in different forms.

“For example, one of our councillors in Lambeth is talking about renaming streets for the Windrush generation.”

Having gauged the public mood by going door to door, Wixley speculated that people might distribute their three votes – one for the London mayor, one for their London assembly constituency member and one for a London-wide assembly member – across different parties.

The election will run on a proportional system which she said is much fairer and claimed it gives the Liberal Democrats a good chance.

Wixley joined the Lib Dems shortly after Brexit, to which she was vehemently opposed.

In 2019 she ran as their MP for Putney, where she placed third behind Labour and the Conservatives, with less than 17% of the vote.

She first became politicised as a student in South Africa, in the 1980s, where she was part of the anti-apartheid movement, working in journalism and pirate radio.

Wixley then worked for various NGOs including Oxfam, and was part of a group that won the Nobel Peace Prize for their part in the international agreement to ban landmines.

She said she’s fully committed to the Liberal Democrats mantra of “jobs, homes and clean air”.

Echoing comments made by fellow party member Hina Bokhari, who if elected stands to be the first Muslim woman in the London Assembly, Wixley described Labour’s plans for a tunnel between Silvertown and the Greenwhich Peninsula as their “dirty little secret”.

It’s claimed by opponents that the plan doesn’t appear in Khan’s manifesto and is expected to cause congestion in the surrounding streets.

Wixley argued: “Khan can’t talk about wanting to clean up London’s air and then look to put in a polluting highway under the Thames.”

She supports Cooper’s target for 80% of commuter journeys to take place on foot but her vision for a cleaner London differs however, in that she thinks cheaper, easier and more accessible public transport including “more tubes during rush hour, is the way to coax people into leaving their cars at home.

The Liberal Democrat from Wandsworth also supports her own party’s plan to introduce free Santander bikes on Sundays.

Wixley believes London should take its cue from Rotterdam and convert disused office blocks into housing for the homeless.

In fact she wants to join the Assembly of European Regions, which could help the capital connect and share ideas with other European cities in spite of Brexit.

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