Speaking exclusively to SWL, Sarah Olney, Lib Dem MP for Richmond Park, talks about the impact the pandemic has had on her constituents and what she is doing to help her community.
Olney is clearly passionate about the area she represents and its constituents.
She won back her seat from the then Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith in 2019 having previously been MP for Richmond Park from 2016 – 2017.
Olney stated: “I don’t take my seat for granted and work hard for my constituents.”
That hard work means a back team of eight supporting the MP.
As Christmas approaches, Olney will be supporting the hospitality industry which has been hit hard by the pandemic, by taking her staff out for a Christmas lunch.
The team will be taking lateral flow tests beforehand to ensure they are safe and therefore protecting members of the public from Covid-19.
Olney said: “For the people of Richmond Park, the pandemic has hit hard like the rest of the country, but there are a higher proportion of white collar workers in the area who were able to work from home and incomes have remained stable, we’ve had fewer people on furlough.
“For businesses, the independents, it’s been good – Pethers of Kew have continued selling good food but the hospitality industry has struggled.
Olney continued: “I was talking to Don Fernando’s a local business recently and they’ve struggled with rent and no income but are surviving.
“The hospitality industry has been caught in the middle.”
Olney believes not enough has been done by the government to help businesses.
Along with the MP for St. Alban’s and Lib Dem Deputy Leader and Spokesperson for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, Daisy Cooper, Olney has written a letter to Paul Scully at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to demand a hospitality summit to address the effect the pandemic has had on the hospitality industry and local businesses, the impact of Plan B measures and what the government is going to do about it.
Olney’s calm voice changed tone when speaking about the recent Downing Street Christmas party debacle which has infuriated her.
She said: “It’s so frustrating, we are on the verge of asking people to change their behaviour again with new restrictions.
“How can we do that when our leadership has no moral compass? People are reluctant to obey rules when our government doesn’t.
“Their behaviour is contemptuous, lying and laughing about the rules.”
However, Olney stopped short of demanding the Prime Minister resign over the Christmas party furore: “That’s up to the Tories.
“What next do the grassroots of that party want for meaningful change?”
Speaking about her constituents, Olney says: “My constituents are angry about this. It’s made them anxious, particularly the young people.
“We’ve all made sacrifices, done our best and he [the Prime Minister] doesn’t obey the rules. It’s hypocrisy.”
Olney was particularly aggrieved by the Prime Minister in Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons the day after ITV showed the video of Allegra Stratton laughing during a dummy press meeting.
“Allegra Stratton and the people in that video laughing angered me. It’s a Boris Johnson cult.”
What message does Olney have for her own constituents of Richmond Park?
“Get jabbed, keep testing, wear masks, socially distance and be sensible. I’m doing those things too so that we can all get out of this pandemic.”
The office of the Prime Minister has not replied to a request for comment.
Photo copyright and courtesy of Sarah Olney’s office.